Onam, is a harvest festival that falls in the months of August/September annually. It is celebrated across India and the world. However, it is the main festival of Kerala. It is celebrated over a period of 10 days.
Here’s the story behind it.
Once upon a time, the king Mahabali ruled Kerala. Mahabali was highly intellectual, fair and powerful. He was a demon king and an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. His power extended to heaven and the Pataal lok.
The gods grew jealous of Mahabali and asked Lord Vishnu to slay the demon king. Lord Vishnu agreed and took the avatar of Vamana, a brahmin dwarf.
He approached Mahabali and requested the king for land that he could cover in his three steps. Mahabali agreed.
That's when Vamana began to grow in size. Mahabali was stunned. With one step, he covered the sky. With his second step, he covered the netherworld.
Mahabali was in awe of Vamana's power. He did not know that Vamana was actually the almighty Vishnu. With the third step, Vamana would destroy earth.
Knowing this, Mahabali stopped him. The demon king asked Vamana to place his foot on his head and Mahabali accepted the fact that the act would send him to the underworld.
However, before doing this Vamana offered Mahabali a boon. In his boon Mahabali asked Vamana to allow him to visit Kerala once in a year during Onam.
Vamana agreed and stepped on Mahabali's head, sending him to hell. Every year, Onam is the day when Mahabali returns to Kerala. During the ten-day festivities, people in Kerala have traditionally celebrated by wearing their cultural outfits.
Women wear white sarees with gold borders, there are dance performances & beautiful flower arrangements. People also participate in boat races, tug of war, women have dance performances, there is tiger dance, Kathakali performances, songs, music, etc.
The traditional Onam feast called Sadya is served on a banana leaf. It consists of various delicious courses that are enjoyed by all.