Cheers to Onam 2023! Kerala Nishagandhi Auditorium in the district of Thiruvananthapuram hosted the State Tourism’s Onam cultural festival’s opening ceremony on Sunday.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. This year, the festival’s 10-day run will end on August 31 after starting on August 20.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan greets artists during the Onam celebrations at the State Legislative Assembly complex, in Thiruvananthapuram, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023. (PTI Photo)

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan greets artists during the Onam celebrations at the State Legislative Assembly complex, in Thiruvananthapuram, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023. (PTI Photo)

According to Tourism Minister P.A. Mohamed Riyas, “Onam is a unique celebration that respects and promotes the values of inclusivity and togetherness, and it is fitting that the event’s main subject this year is Onam, the symphony of harmony.

According to a report from the news agency ANI, Speaker of the Kerala Legislative Assembly A.N. Shamseer also kicked off the ‘Ponnonam 2023’ Onam celebrations in the district town plaza in Kerala’s Kannur.
On Sunday, the Kannur district’s Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) hosted “Ponnonam 2023” there.

Flash mobs, aksharslokam, folk music, group dances, mega thiruvathira, and mohiniyattam were among the performances that took place at the festival.
With his remarks, the speaker of the Kerala Legislative Assembly brightened the evening in Kannur and emphasized the need to use celebrations like Onam to unite people against communalism.

As part of the 10-day Onam celebrations, also known as Thiru-Onam or Thiruvonam, Keralans pay honor to the legendary King Mahabali’s return, which is woven into a web of tales and myths.
Atham is the first on the list, then Chodhi, Vishakam, Anizham, Thriketa, Moolam, Pooradam, and Uthradam, with the 10th day, Thiruvonam, serving as the culmination.

As Onam celebrations come to a conclusion on Thiruvonam, the final day, families prepare and partake in Onasadya, the lavish Onam feast, making it the most fortunate day.
The Malayalam calendar’s Chingam month, which ushers in Onam, is celebrated.

The Malayalam year is known as the Kolla Varsham and begins on Onam as well. The demon King Mahabali/Maveli returns to his cherished state of Kerala at the harvest festival.
According to tradition, King Mahabali overthrew the Gods and ruled over the three planets.

The Gods began to feel uneasy because of his popularity, despite the fact that he was a kind and astute king. They walked up to Lord Vishnu and begged him to assist them. Therefore, Vamana, a diminutive Brahmin, became Vishnu’s fifth avatar.
People begin building floral carpets (Pookkalam) in front of their residences and places of business to welcome Mahabali. Today is the start of celebrations of all kinds in classrooms, institutions, workplaces, and other places.

Onam 2023: Thiruvonam Date, Story, and Significance of the Festival

Onam honors Vamana and King Mahabali.

Onam is an annual harvest festival in India that is mostly observed by the Hindus of Kerala. It is the state’s official festival and a significant annual event for Keralites.

It features a variety of cultural events.Onam honors Vamana and King Mahabali. According to Hindu mythology, Onam is observed in Kerala in honor of the wise leadership displayed by the mythical daitya king Mahabali.

Tradition holds that the devas conspired to remove Mahabali because they were jealous of his fame and power. They sent the dwarf Brahmin Vamana to earth to kill Mahabali and drag him to hell.

Vamana requested from the kind Mahabali three feet of land as his wish. Mahabali provided his own head as a spot to put his third foot after measuring the entire cosmos and finding no place to do so,

fulfilling the dream. Vamana, however, was moved by Mahabali’s charity and granted the king’s solitary request to travel to his realm and subjects once a year. Every year in Kerala, Onam is observed to commemorate Mahabali’s return home.

According to the Panchangam, Onam is observed on the 22nd of the Malayalam calendar’s Chingam month, which falls between August and September on the Gregorian calendar. Although the festival has a lengthy history, it wasn’t until much later that it became firmly linked to Hindu mythology.

Onam likely has a long religious background and history in Kerala and the surrounding regions of South India, according to literary and epigraphic evidence.

Vamana and Mahabali

Mahabali was the great-great-grandson of the Brahmin sage Kashyapa, the great-grandson of the demonic ruler Hiranyakashipu, and the grandson of Prahlada, a devotee of Vishnu, according to Hindu legend.

This ties the celebration to the Puranic tale of Prahlada, known as Holika in Hinduism, and Hiranyakashipu’s son. Despite having a demonic Asura father who detested Vishnu as his father, Prahlada revolted against his father’s persecution of humans and began to revere Vishnu.

Prahlada is saved when Hiranyakashipu, who is trying to kill his son, is killed by Vishnu in his Narasimha avatar.
One tale surrounding Onam features the dwarf Vamana taking a leap-step and is shown in numerous Hindu temple artworks (above)
Mahabali, the great-grandson of Prahlada, gained control of the three planets and the gods (Devas) by overthrowing them. Vaishnavism holds that the defeated Devas went to Vishnu for assistance in their conflict with Mahabali.

Mahabali was a just king and a follower of Vishnu, thus he refrained from joining the gods in violence against him. After defeating the gods, Mahabali vowed to hold a Yajna (homa sacrifices/rituals) and grant anyone’s wish during the Yajna. Vishnu approached Mahabali in his fifth avatar, a dwarf monk by the name of Vamana.

The youngster was given any and all of the king’s offerings, including food, villages, cows, elephants, and gold. One should not want more than one needs, the youngster claimed, adding that all he required was “three paces of land.” Mahbali concurred.
Vamana expanded to great proportions, covering the whole area that Mahabali reigned over in just two paces. Mahabali offered his head for Vishnu to stomp on at the third place, and Vishnu accepted the gesture as proof of Mahabali’s devotion.

Mahabali was given a blessing by Vishnu that allowed him to return once a year to the kingdoms and people he previously controlled. As a reminder of the moral code and his humility in honoring his commitment to Vishnu, this return coincides with the festival of Onam.

An Onasadya feast of nine vegetarian courses is served to commemorate Mahabali’s final day of residence. The name Thrikkakara derives from the Sanskrit phrase “Thiru-kaal-kara,” which means “place of the holy foot.

” The primary god in the Thrikkakara Temple is Vamana, although Shiva is worshipped at the nearby, lesser temple. The Shiva temple is called “Tekkum Devar,” while the Vamana temple is called “Vadakkum Devar.” The Thrikkakara Temple now has a variety of auxiliary deities. Onam festival census data from 1961 reads as follows:
The locals view the Shiva temple as being more significant than the Vamana temple, despite the Vamana temple being regarded as the primary shrine at the elite level. They contend that Vamana was not there at the time and that Shiva served as Mahabali’s “Kuladeivam” (family deity).

Where the Vamana temple is now, was the location of Mahabali’s palace. After Mahabali was overthrown, his palace was destroyed, and the saint Kapila later established Vamana there.
Nanditha Krishna asserts that the Rigveda and the Vedic work Shatapatha Brahmana have a more straightforward version of this legend—one without Mahabali—in which a solar deity is depicted as possessing Vishnuan abilities.

This tale probably developed over time and contains some allegory, with Bali serving as a metaphor for a gift of thankfulness following a bountiful rice harvest during the monsoon and Vishnu serving as a representation of the Keralan sun and summer before Onam.

Roshen Dalal asserts that while the tale of Mahabali is crucial to Onam in Kerala, it is also significant in the Uttar Pradesh regions of Balia and Bawan, Gujarat’s Bharuch, and Maharashtra’s Mahabaleshwar.

The significance of the tale lies not in the fact that Mahabali’s reign came to an end, but rather in the way it exemplifies Hinduism’s belief in the cyclical nature of events and that nothing—not even good deeds and self-awareness—can last forever.


An alternative explanation for Onam involves Parashurama, a Vishnu incarnation who is credited in Hinduism with creating the Western Ghats, which stretch from Kerala’s southernmost tip through Karnataka, Goa, and up to Maharashtra.

According to this myth, Vishnu was displeased with the monarchs and the warrior caste because they were always at war and haughty toward others.
In the reign of King Kaartavirya, Vishnu assumed the form of Parashurama, also referred to as “Rama with an axe” and Rama Jamadagyna.

This ruler terrorized and punished the populace, the wise men, and the deities. One day, the king visited Parashurama and his mother Renuka in their hermitage. While Parashurama was away, the monarch seized their cow’s calf without their consent.

After seeing the monarch’s injustice upon his return, Parashurama summoned the king to battle and had him and all of his despotic warriors slaughtered. When he finally hurled the axe, the sea receded and created Kerala and other coastal western regions of the Indian subcontinent wherever it landed.

Another account claims that Parashurama used his axe to carve out a mini-Himalayan mountain range, which he then used to transport Namboodiri Brahmins to southwest India.

According to this myth, the Onam celebration marks those days as the new year to honor Parashurama’s foundation of Kerala.
Texts and epigraphs from the second century CE or so point to the existence of the mythology and worship of Parashurama.
According to Christine Frost, the cultural event Onam is a “popular major Hindu festival in Kerala,” but it is also “celebrated with much zest alongside Hindus” by other cultures. Bishop Selvister Ponnumuthan of the Latin Catholic Church claims that the holiday is observed with native rites in Trivandrum’s BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities).

Selvister Ponnumuthan claims that these customs begin with the lighting of the Nilavilakku, an arati that entails the waving of flowers over the Bible (pushparati), and sharing the Onam feast with the Hindus as a sign of “communion of brothers and sisters of different faiths.”BECs in Trivandrum see the value of these activities as a way to integrate with Hindus, to respect one another, and to share a tradition.

In his book “A Voyage to the East Indies,” Paulinus of St. Bartholomew (1748–1806) depicts Onam as:
Onam, the fourth major holiday in Malayalam, always falls on the first day of the new moon (though not always) in the month of September. The rain in Malabar stops about September 10th.

In other words, this season is the same as what Europeans refer to as spring. Everything in nature appears to have been renewed; new flowers have sprouted, and trees are in blossom. Therefore, it appears that the objective of this celebration was to ask the Gods for a joyful and productive year.

Because the cow, as already noted, is a sacred animal dedicated to the Goddess Lakshmi, the Ceres of the Indians, the Indians are used to decorating their homes with flowers and cow dung throughout this eight-day period. They also put on new clothing, threw out all of their old pottery, and replaced it with new on this occasion.

The men divide themselves into two parties and shoot arrows at one another, especially the young males. These arrows are blunted but incredibly powerful, and they are shot with such force that many people are typically injured on both sides. The Cerealia and Juvenalia of the ancient Greeks and Romans bear striking similarities to these games.

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