The story of Onam shared below was written by my father-in-law, Narayanankutty Kartha.
The Story of Onam
Once upon a time an asura (demon) king – Mahabali - used to rule Kerala. In that time everybody lived in peace, everything was in plenty, no one indulged in wrong doings, telling lies or betraying one another. All the people were happy about his rule and thus the king’s popularity grew to such a proportion that the Gods were shaken and even thought at this rate one day people will ignore Gods and thus they will no more be worshipped or
liked by the people. Therefore a delegation of Gods approached Vishnu to save them from this growing ignominy. Vishnu then took the avtar of a Vamana, Brahmin Bikshu and approached Mahabali for alms. Mahabali was known for his habit of giving alms to Brahmins and never to say ‘no’ to anyone who approached him for alms. Mahabali when approached by Vamana (Vishnu in disguise) readily agreed and asked what he would need. To this the Brahmin said that he has no place to live and needed only ‘three steps of land’ (moonu adi mannu). Mahabali gave him the alms and asked him to measure the land wherever he pleases. (For Onam, people are nominated to dress up like the King for the festivities. Mahabali, pictured to the right, is also known as Maveli. Photo credit: Bijoy Mohan.)
|This sign says "Onaashamsakal" in|
Malayalam. Ona (Onam), asahamsakal
In their homes, with their families, Keralites and Malayalees all over the world welcome King Maveli into their home by creating pookkalams (flower carpets), like the one below. In addition to this, everyone partakes in a savory 26-course meal served on a banana leaf!
I enjoy celebrating Onam with my family in India as well as at work with my colleagues and clients. I am grateful to experience other cultures and of course, eat Onasadya!
Jennifer Kumar is the Managing Director of Authentic Journeys, a consultancy based in Infopark, Kochi helping bridge the culture gap between Indians and their US counterparts. Contact her for more information.
More about Onam:
Jennifer interviewed by Vanitha, Malayalam magazine
Onam Celebrations in Infopark
Networked blogs: http://nblo.gs/ZKkeQ