What is Onam?
Onam is a harvest festival in Kerala. Here’s the story behind it. Once upon a time, the demon king Mahabali ruled Kerala. He was a wise and fair king. Mahabali worshipped Lord Vishnu.
His power extended to Patala, the netherworld and the heavens. The gods grew jealous of Mahabali. They asked Lord Vishnu for help.
Lord Vishnu took the avatar of a Vamana, a brahmin dwarf. He approached Mahabali for alms. He only wanted the land that he could cover in three steps. Mahabali agreed.
The Vamana began to grow in size. With one step, he covered the sky. With his second step, Lord Vishnu covered the netherworld.
Mahabali realised that Lord Vishnu’s third step would destroy the earth. So, he offered his head for Lord Vishnu’s last step.
When Lord Vishnu placed his foot on Maha Bali’s head, it pushed him to the netherworld. Before taking the third step though, Lord Vishnu granted Mahabali a boon.
Mahabali wished to visit Kerala once a year. Onam is the day Mahabali returns home.
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