Do you know that the Onam festival goes by the name ofThe Annual Harvest Festival of Happiness and Joyas well? This traditional festival, which is also known as the official state festival of Kerala, falls on the 22nd Nakshatra Thiruvonam of the Malayalam calendar of Chingam.
According to popular beliefs and legends, this auspicious festival is celebrated in Kerala to commemorate the spirit of King Mahabali. Onam includes various activities and festivities such as tiger dance, Pookkalam, and Vallam Kali boat races - the amalgamation of which makes this festival truly amazing. And perhaps it is owing to these factors that this festival is celebrated with great fervor among the masses. Coming back to the part of beliefs and legends, let’s discover what they are all about.
History of Onam Celebration
It is believed that the spirit of King Mahabali visits Kerala during this auspicious time of the year. King Mahabali was the great-great-grandson of the Brahmin sage Kashyapa, who was the great-grandson of demonic dictator Hiranyakashipu. The reason to mention this is the fact that all of this further links this festival to the Puranic mythology of Prahlada - the Lord Vishnu devotee and son of Hiranyakashipu.
As per the legend, Prahlada, despite being born to an Asura, was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu, whom his father hated. Due to this, his father even tried to kill him multiple times but eventually lost his own life, as Lord Vishnu’s Narasimha Avatar killed him.
Then according to the story, it was Prahlada’s grandson King Mahabali who later on became a great king and defeated the devas and took over the three worlds. As a result of this, the devas had to approach Vishnu for helping them out but were refused as Mahabali had proved to be a good ruler and was also a great devotee of Vishnu himself.
After his conquest, when Mahabali came home, he decided to perform a Yajna and declared that everyone would be given whatever they desired. Seeing this as an opportune moment, Lord Vishnu decided to take his test. He took the form of a young boy called Vamana and approached Mahabali on the day of Yajana. Although he was offered just about everything ranging from food to clothing, Vamana told Mahabali that one should not seek more than one’s needs and just demanded three steps of land from him. But something unusual happened when he was granted this wish!
Vamana, who had the height just of a kid, suddenly became giant in size and that too, so big that he covered everything which Mahabli owned with just two steps of his. Now for the third step, after knowing Vishnu’s true identity, Mahabali offered him, his own head as a sign of true and pure devotion to Lord Vishnu. This impressed God so much that Mahabali was granted a boon by the supreme being.
As per this boon, Mahabali could visit his kingdom once every year even after passing away and it is this revisiting time that is marked as the Onam Festival. Onam Festival is among one of the important festivals of Kerala.
Major Attractions of Onam Festival
It is a beautiful festival full of colors, decorations, rituals, and happy faces. People can be seen dressing up beautifully and greeting their friends and family. Onam Festival is celebrated over a period of 10 days. Observed as one of the happiest times in the state, this festival is celebrated all around India and has a very similar significance everywhere.
2. Processions and Parades
The celebrations start from Atthachamayam which features elephant marching, drum beats along with many other activities as well. People wearing colorful dresses can be seen with masks. There are processions, parades that depict traditional scenes from epics like Mahabharata.
3. People Coming Together
Onam Festival is also celebrated by Christians and Muslims of Kerala. These traditions are inclusive of the lightning of Nilavi Lakku, eating meals together as a form of communion between brothers and sisters who belong to different faiths.
4. Cultural Programmes and Rituals
The harvest festival is marked and celebrated with some beautiful and influencing customs like cleaning the house, decorating them with flowers. People also indulge in a wide variety of celebrations such as boat races, cultural programs, floral designs, and much more. Evenings look lit with oil lamps and women perform folk dances which is a delightful sight altogether. The charm of this fiesta of Kerala cannot be beaten anyhow.
How to Reach
Popularly known asGod’s Own Country, Kerala is a place that has substantiated its aura as a domestic as well as an international travel getaway. Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala is where you can watch Onam Festival coming to life. The city is located at a distance of 2,901, 732, 1,722, 2,451 km from Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Kolkata respectively. So, if you are looking to visit this amazing getaway then there are three ways to visit this place.
Trivandrum International Airport (TRV) is the nearest airport. It was established in 1932. This airport primarily serves Thiruvananthapuram and its neighboring cities as well. it is considered the second busiest airport in the south after Kochi. Overall, it is the 14th busiest airport in all of India.
Delhi - Board Air India, IndiGo, Vistara, Spicejet flights from Indira Gandhi International Airport. The airfares start from Rs.5,000
Kolkata - Board Spicejet, Air India, Go Air flights from Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport. The airfares start from Rs.5,000
Mumbai - Board Air India, Go Air, Spicejet from Mumbai Airport. The airfares start from Rs.4,000
Madurai - Board Spicejet, Air India, IndiGo from Madurai airport. The airfares start from Rs.4,000
There are a number of railway stations serving Thiruvananthapuram. However, Thiruvananthapuram Central Railway Station is connected pretty well with major cities in India. It is also considered Kerala’s largest train station. This railway station handles a lot of passengers and is thus considered a reliable source of revenue generation. Here is the train route information.
Delhi - Board Trivandrum Rajdhani Express from Hazrat Nizammudin Railway Station and deboard at the Trivandrum Station
Coimbatore - Board Vivek Express from Coimbatore Junction and deboard at the Trivandrum Central
Madurai - Board Punalur Pass from Madurai Junction and deboard at the Trivandrum Central
Chennai - Board Anantapuri Express from Chennai Egmore and deboard at the Trivandrum Central
Hyderabad- Board Sabari Express from Secunderabad Junction and deboard at the Trivandrum Central
If you live nearby the city, you can also travel here by road. You can either travel by your own vehicle, hire a cab or board a bus. There are also buses run here with luxury, regular, and sleeper coach facilities.
From Madurai, the bus fares start from Rs.600.
From Mangalore, the bus fares start from Rs.1,000.