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Well known onam song
Maveli naadu vanidum
Kalam manushyarellarum onnu pole
Aamodathode vassikkum kalam
Chathiyumilla ellolamilla poli
This song priases the rule of the King Mahabali
During the reign of mahabali all men were of equal stature. Then all were aliving happily. Everyone was secure and safe. There were no thefts and no cheating or even a lie There were no false measurements and no other forms of falsehood either.
Keralites celebrate Onam in memory of the golden era of King Mahabali. It is believed that his spirit is said to visit the state at the time of Onam. People put flower mats in front of their houses to welcome the king. All keralites rush to their native land to celebrate onam. It is a festival of unity and communal harmony. Family get-togethers make this festival more colourful. On the Thiruvonam day every one wear new garment and go to temples in the morning. Gifts are given to make the moments more memorable. Then follows the onam feast of delicious food served on plantain leaves. Keralites celebrate onam by organizing community feat, cultural programmes etc.
Mahabali was a king of Kerala who was generous and took the virtue of giving gifts to remarkable extremes. He was a good ruler, so the story goes. The land was plentiful and the people very happy. Mahabali was an Asura ( Asuras are generally depicted as the group of demons). Though he belonged to Asuras, he was a benevolent and judicious ruler and his fame spread far and wide. The Devas (generally depicted as godly/ good people) got worried about his growing powers. They took the help of Lord Vishnu and pushed him out. The story of the meeting of Mahabali and Vishnu (who took the avatar of a kid called Vamana) is also interesting. Mahabali was an ardent devotee of Vishnu, but did not know in the first instance that Vamana was Vishnu himself. Vamana asked for three steps of land. Mahabali granted his request, out of his generosity. Vamana covered the heavens and the earth and all known land with two steps. Then he asked where to place the third step. Mahabali bowed down and asked him to take the third step on his head. Story goes that he was pushed to the nether world, but was granted permission to visit his subjects, once in a year. That is the time of Onam. This poignant story has been interpreted in many ways. Some believe that Vishnu destroyed Mahabali's ego and blessed him. Some believe it symbolizes the Aryan conquest of ancient Kerala. Some believe it was part of the power struggles of Devas and Asuras.
In Trichur, a town in central Kerala, a vibrant procession is taken out with decorated Elephants.
The atha-pookalam is made for ten days starting from Attam, the first day of onam. Usually pookalam is round in shape put by women and children early in the morning before the sunrise. As the days progress the diameter of the pookalam increases each day.
Onasadhya (onam feast) includes variety of dishes numbered to 21 and more. Oansadhya is served in plantain leaf and dishes include chips, pickles, vegetable curries, and sweet porridges.
Vallam kali (Snake boat races)
Aranmula, near the temple dedicated to Lord Krishna and Arjuna, thousands of people gather on the banks of the river Pampa to witness the snake boat races.
Thiruvathira is a dance performed by girls in the open around the traditional brass lamp singing the traditional Malayalam song of onam.
Pulikali is another game of onam celebrations. A group of performers paint their bodies in the likeness of a tiger and dance to the beat of drum like musical instruments. The trs ig are accompanied by a hunter and the theme is tiger hunting. The pulikali performed at Swaraj ground, Thrissur on Thiruvonam day is very famous.
Several events are organized with songs and traditional art forms ( Kathakali, Kaikottikkali, Pulikali etc)