Onam is the most typical Kerala festival which has now earned an all-India character. It coincides with harvest season and is an occasion of spontaneous revelry.
Onam celebrates home coming of Mahabali, legendary kind, who ruled over Kerala in an age of plenty but was pushed down to infernal regions by Vishnu in the form of Vamana. It is now celebrated as a national festival under government auspices.
Onam comes on the Shravan Bhadrapada in the month of Shravan according to the Hindu lunar calendar around August or September. On this occasion, people clean their houses and their surroundings and decorate it beautifully.
They start their preparations a few days before the festival. Two littie mounds of earth are placed in the centre to represent king Mahabali and Lord Vishnu.
There is fervour of festivity all arround. Ladies prepare floral rangolis with beautiful designs at the entrance of their houses to please King Mahabali, who was very fond of all these beautiful things. Family puja is performed with great care and prayers are offered. The women of Kerala, who are famous for their beauty, do the belle to grace the occasion.
People of all ages enjoy each and every moment of this festival.
People also perform classical dance-the Kathakali in the courtyard of their house. Even at public places, they dance with full vigour and gaiety. The masked Kathak dancers enact the mythological stories in a very lively manner.
Onam is a welcome occasion for King Mahabali. A song is sung on the auspicious occasion which tells the people of Kerala about the glory of the king and his rule needless to say that the king was famous for his truth, justice and peaceful coordination.
People seem to be in high spirits on the occasion of Onam. The houses and the streets are lighted as lighted on Deepawali throughout the country. On the next day of Onam, people visit their relatives and friends and offer them saffron clothes. They express good wishes to each other and enjoy the day in an atmosphere of lgve and compassion.
Thus, Onam is the most important festival of Kerala. They still remember the prosperity of King Mahabali by celebrating it enthusiastically. They have a belief that the king will come every year to bless them and grace the occasion. Hence they celebrate this festival with fresh vigour and zeal.