|Happy Onam. pressks.com|
|Onam festival, Kerala.www.hindugodwallpaper.com|
At Puri Jagnnath, during the rath yatra that comes annually in the months of June and July, the darshan of the Vamana (dwarf) avatar is very important. It means salvation for humans and release from the human bondage and travails of birth and death cycles. Vamana is an incarnation of Lord Jagannatha (Vishnu).
|Onam festival Kerala, India www.sify.com|
The encounter of God-incarnate Vamana and the demon king Mahabali is an interesting one and down south in the state of Kerala, Malayalees celebrate with fanfare the annual visit of King Mahabali to their enchanting land.
|Vamana Avatar. Lord and demon king Mahabali. www.happyonamimages.com|
Onam, an ancient Hindu festival, is an important one in Kerala and people of all religions actively participate and enjoy this festival that falls during the Malayalam month of Chingam (Aug - Sep). It marks the commemoration of Vamana avatara of lord Vishnu and the subsequent homecoming of the mythical King Mahabali, who is supposedly their ruler. During the festival the women wear their best gold jewelry and dress and show their skills and talents in decorating their home or other place with pookolam (rangoli made of flowers). The pookolam (in Tamil Kolam) comes with various intricate geometric patterns, dexterously using flowers of various hues. The decoration of pookolam, coconut lamps and dance performance by the women is a sort of welcome ceremony to king Mahabali, who is purported to descend from heaven to earth to bless the people there.
|Pookolam, Onam festival, .anyone4curryandotherthings.com|
The legend of Vamana Avatar (5th avatar of Vishnu) of Lord Krishna is an interesting one, involving demon king Mahabali. The Lord Vishnu in the guise of a Brahmin - Vamana (dwarf) asked the King Mahabali (the grand son of Prahlada) to give him land that could be measured by his three strides. The demon king was a man of charitable disposition, but was filled with pride and presumption. He did lots of penance and got several boons from the lord. So, he could donate whatever the person asked for. T
Sarcastically, thinking the little Brahmin wanted just a small piece of land, he agreed to donate. His charity carried a streak of derision that later landed him in serious trouble. The God in Vamana avatar took his original form, grew in size, reaching the sky. He covered the heaven and the earth with just one stride; from earth to nether world with his second stride. The proud king, realizing his folly that he was being tested by the lord himself and was unable to fulfill the promise, offered his head to the lord and asked him to put his foot on his head. The lord put his foot on his head and gave the king immortality for his humility.
|Onam festival, Kerala Dreamstime.com|
In Hindu mythology every legend has a moral to offer that will be beneficial to the humanity. This legend signifies that a man should be as much humble as possible and should not get carried away by ego and arrogance. If he is hot-headed and has no humility, soon he will slide down hill and hit the rock bottom - a journey from sublime to disgrace.
|Onam festival, Chennai. www.youtube.com|
It is believed as granted by Lord Vishnu - Vamana, the King Mahabali is supposed to return to his land every year - the king's visit to his home (lost kingdom) is celebrated as Onam festival on a grand scale with colorful koolam, flower decoration and whopping 21 course meal with extravaganza such as snake boat races in the back waters.
|Chennai College students celebrate Onam .www.financialexpress.com|
For the people of Kerala and elsewhere Onam is an occasion to have fun with family members and people around them, a brief respite from the drudgery of stressed life.