Onam is the national festival of Kerala. It usually comes off in the month of August or September. Men, women and children eagerly look forward to this festival. It is celebrated for four days all over Kerala. During the Onam days, the atmosphere in Kerala is surcharged with I dance and drama, song and music, games and sports of all kinds. It is a j festival of joy for the people of Kerala.
Onam is connected with the legend of a King called Mahabali who ruled over Mahabalipuram in ancient times. The story goes that King Mahabali deeply loved his subjects. The people of Mahabalipuram were very happy and prosperous. They respected and adored the King like a god of heaven. The respect and regard that the King enjoyed aroused the jealousy of the gods of heaven. They sent Vishnu to the King in the guise of a Brahmin boy named Vaman to dethrone him. Vaman appeared in the court of the king and made a request for a piece of land which could be covered by his three small steps. The king readily agreed soon, Vaman appeared in his true colours and covered the whole area of the earth and heaven in just two steps. There was no space left for the third step. The King bowed his head for the third step to be taken on it. He was pushed to the hell. Mahabali requested Lord Vishnu to allow him to visit his Kingdom once a year to see his subjects. This request was granted. Onam is celebrated to commemorate the day when Mahabali comes to see his subjects.
It is the harvest festival of Kerala. Pookkalams are prepared everywhere. Processions are accompanied by the beating of drums, sounding of trumpets and performances of dance and music are taken out Boat races are another attraction of the festival. Onam comes once a year, but its joy remains in the minds of the malayalees until the next festival.