Custom Search

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Atham, the beginning of Onam

The Indian state of Kerala celebrates Atham, the beginning of 10 day long Tiruvonam celebrations. The day is celebrated with floral decorations called Pookalam or Atham Pookalam and with feasts by Keralites.

In Hindu mythology, Kerala was ruled by king Maha Bali. Under the rule of this scholar king, Kerala blossomed with prosperity. Because of his growing popularity, he starts fighting with Gods, who he thinks are threat to his existence. So, Lord Vishnu decides to remove Bali from earth and goes to him in the incarnation of Vamana. Bali is a great donor and never says no to people who come to him. Vamana asks for 3 feet of land and Bali agrees to give. Then Vamana grows big and occupies all the land with one feet and all the sky with second foot. For the third foot, Bali offers his head and has been pushed to Patala (an imaginary universe).

But for all the virtues of Bali, Vamana blesses him to get a chance to visit his people every year and this visit is celebrated as Thiruvonam in Kerala. Today, it is the national festival in Kerala.

If you have Malayali’s in your neighborhood, don’t miss out watching Onam Pookalam (10 day long floral decorations), Onasadya (9 course grand meal) Onakalikal (Sports). If you are visiting Kerala don’t miss Elephant races and Vallamkali (the snake boat race) and ofcourse, the beautiful traditional costumes!

Wish the readers a happy Onam!

No comments: