New Delhi: Malayalis across the world are celebrating Onam, the annual 10-day festival in Kerala that celebrates the arrival of Demon King ‘Mahabali’. The celebrations are not just restricted to Hindus and extend to all people from religions as a harvest festival. ALSO READ | PM Modi’s Aatmnirbhar Push In 68th Mann Ki Baat, Urges Startups To ‘Team Up For Toys’| Key Takeaways
Legend Of King Mahabali
Many people outside Kerala, however, may not be entirely familiar with the legend of King Mahabali who is the center of the festival. So here’s how the story goes.
According to mythology, King Mahabali was so virtuous that he defeated the Devas/Gods and began ruling over all three ‘loks’/worlds. The demon king belonged to the Asura tribe, but as opposed to the popular narrative or interpretation of Asuras, he was known to be kind-hearted and was much-loved. He was also the grandson of Vishnu devotee Pralahada who celebrated for rebelling against his father Hiranyakashyap. The Gods became insecure about King Mahabali’s clout so they appealed to Lord Vishnu to help them reign the Asura King in.
Lord Vishnu took on his fifth avatar as poor dwarf sage ‘Vamana’ and went to King Mahabali who was undertaking a yagna and had vowed to fulfill any wishes one asked from him. Appearing before the King Mahabali, Vamana asked to be granted a wish. When asked what he wanted, Vamana asked for land that measured his three paces. When King Mahabali agreed, Vimana grew in enormous size. His first step covered the earth and the second step covered the sky. Then when Lord Vishnu was to take his third pace, King Mahabali offered his own head to his deity. This act of devotion impressed Lord Vishnu a lot and he granted Mahabali the right to visit his kingdom and people once every year.
Come Onam and Malayalis everywhere adorn their homes with a flower carpet or Pookalam to welcome Mahabali. The ritual brings families together and they arrange an assortment of flowers in varied patterns. #OnamBeyondBorders #OnamFestKerala pic.twitter.com/1IQ12SgnPe
— Kerala Tourism (@KeralaTourism) August 29, 2020
Celebrations This Year
The Onam festivities this year like all others have been marred by the Coronavirus pandemic so all the various outdoor activities usually observed in the festival will be missed. However, Malayalis can still celebrate it indoors by keeping Pookalam/the special design made using flowers and flower petals to welcome the beloved King Mahabli; and by relishing the home-made Onam Sadhya, a delicious preparation of various dishes served on a banana leaf.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has wished Keralites while urging everyone to stay indoors, avoid public gatherings and follow all other Covid-19 precautions laid out by the state.
Meanwhile, PM Narendra Modi wished all Malayalis across the world by calling Onam an international festival. In his Man Ki Baat address, the PM said ” These days, the festival of Onam is also being celebrated with fervour. The zest of Onam has reached foreign lands. Be it USA, Europe or Gulf countries, the joys of Onam can be felt everywhere. Onam is increasingly turning to be an international festival”.
These days, the festival of Onam is also being celebrated with fervour.
The zest of Onam has reached foreign lands. Be it USA, Europe or Gulf countries, the joys of Onam can be felt everywhere. Onam is increasingly turning to be an international festival: PM during #MannKiBaat
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) August 30, 2020
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