Onam is an ancient festival which is still celebrated with great pomp and grandeur in the heritage rich state of Kerala, India. It is a harvest festival that celebrates King Mahabali’s annual visit to his beloved kingdom.
According to the legend, the height of Kerala’s prosperity was under King Mahabali’s reign. He was so successful and revered by his people that devas or gods became jealous of him. At their request, Lord Vishnu assumed the form of a dwarf named Vamana who visited the great King and requested three steps of land for himself to live in. against the warning of his religious advisor guru Sukracharya, the generous king promised him the three steps of land. Vamana enlarged himself to such dimensions that he towered over the three worlds of heaven, earth and hell and covered all three with just two steps. To fulfil his promise, the King offered his own head to place the third step and was thus pushed down to the underworld. Vishnu granted him the sovereignty of the underworld and allowed the King to visit his kingdom and its people once a year. This day is celebrated as Thiruvonam in Kerala to welcome the King Mahabali.