Yet another Onam – the harvest festival of Kerala – is here… Being away from my native place, and unable to go there to celebrate onam, i thought og penning down my thoughts here…
Onam is a festival celebratd by one and all in Kerala, irrespective of your religion , ethinicity, or caste ! And that is the reason why, though a Tamilian by birth, we still celebrate Onam !
The legend behind this festival is that Lord Vishnu took the avatar of Vamana and requested of the just and virtuous King Mahabali to grant him as much land as can be covered by his 3 steps. Disregarding the warning from Sukracharya, his Guru, Mahabali grnated him the boon. Vamana then took up his original form, and with 2 steps he covered all the earth, and the sky and the third step was placed on the head of King Mahabali, thus pushing him into Patala.
There are toher legends too associated with onam…
Since Mahabali was a very just King, Lord Vishnu allowed him to visit his subjects once a year on the Thiruonam day of Chinga maasam , and that is celebrated as Onam.
Feasts are prepared, flower kolams (athapoo) is prepared, and all people dress up in new clothes to welcome Mahabali Tamburaan.
In souther kerala, onam is a welcmome given to King Mahabali, but in some parts of Norther Kerala, it is celebrated with respect ot the Vamana Avatharam of Vishnu. There, athappoo is prepared and in the centre, a small "mathoru" is prepared using clay representing vamana.
In my childhood, onam was a festival that we all looked forward to. We get 10 days holidays, we get new dresses, the onam feast, and then there was the onam festivites in all parts of the city !
the holidays was usually spent running around with friends, picking flowers from various houses, to put up our own athappoo, there would be a wooden swing that would have been arranged specifically for onam, which we would all fight for (infact one of us would wake up early in the morning and go and book the swing, lest the boys take hold of it !!!)
in most of my friends houses, prepartions would begin from the day before onam (which is the uthradam day), with plantain chips being made (which ofcourse, would be stolen by us ), pappadams being fried ( again raided by us kids) etc
on the day of onam, we devote our full time to savouring the sadya… tasting payasams from different houses, it was heavenly feeling !!!
on the onam day evening, trivandrum city would be decked up in lights – all builidings would be decorated with lights (its a state sponsored competiton, and best decorated buliding wins), and all traffic to main roads would be stopped. People, dressed in their onakkodis (new dresses) would walk through the roads, enjoying the light shows, clutural events organised in stages, and muching on street food…
those good old days are gone… now everyone, stays glued to the tv and watch all the movies that the channels show… and athappo has jsut become a competition event… payasam and chips are bought off the shelf, infact the enitre feast is ordered…
how i miss onam and my childhood, and my home….
Wishing u all a Happy Onam