India’s second largest festival of colors is finally underway marking the beginning of a bountiful harvest. Onam is a special festival that draws from thousands of years of Hindu tradition and includes a range of cultural events. Today we are going to look at what makes Onam special, its origins, and its cultural significance. If you haven’t heard the story yet, you’re going to want to read it till the end.
The Story of Onam?
Onam, also known as Thiruvonam or the harvest festival, is the largest and most auspicious festival of the south Indian state of Kerala. It is celebrated in remembrance of Mahabali, an Asura king who is said to have ruled over Kerala according to ancient Hindu texts. He was a wise and just king, and a proud devotee of Lord Vishnu.
Interestingly, legend holds that he was powerful enough to defeat the gods and rule over all three worlds – hell, earth, and heaven. Although Mahabali was a kind-hearted and generous leader, the gods eventually grew jealous and fearful of his power. In their plight, they plead with Lord Vishnu to step in and defeat the Asura King. To that end, Lord Vishnu descended upon this earth in his fifth avatar, reincarnating as the Brahmin Dwarf Vamana.
To consolidate his rule over the three worlds, Mahabali decided to perform the 100 Ashwamedha Yagna. On his 100th Yagna, just as it was about to end, Vamana approached Mahabali’s throne. For some reason, upon seeing Vamana, Mahabali felt a surge of love and bowed before the young Brahmin. After finding out Vaamana was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu himself, he was overjoyed and asked Vamana to wish for anything he wanted.
To his surprise, Vamana asked for 3 steps of land to be measured by his feet. At first, Mahabali thought it was a pretty small wish and encouraged Vamana to ask for more, however, he was adamant about what he wanted. Upon being granted his request Vamana began to rapidly grow in size. He grew so huge that Mahabali could only see his feet. With his first step, he covered the entire earth, and with the second one, he covered the heavens. However, there was no place left for Vamana to keep his third step. Mahabali smilingly understood Vamana’s intentions and decided to offer his own head as the third step.
Vamana’s third step sent Mahabali straight to the netherworld. While this pleased Indra and the other gods, Lord Vishnu was immensely perturbed and disturbed by what he had done. In his heart, Lord Vishnu knew that Mahabali was a worthy king and a true devotee. However, such great was Mahabali’s devotion that he did not regret the fact that he was sent into the underworld. He was happy that his lord’s wish was getting fulfilled.
Lord Vishnu was moved by Mahabali’s devotion and justness. In exchange for fulfilling his wishes, Lord Vishnu told Mahabali that he would be reincarnated as the next Indra in his next life. But that’s not all. Because Mahabali was so loved by his subjects and people, Lord Vishnu agreed that he may leave the underworld to visit his kingdom once every year. And thus began the tradition of Onam since present-day Kerala is considered to be King Mahabali’s kingdom. Thus, Onam is both a celebration of King Mahabali’s annual return and a tribute to his sacrifice.
How Is Onam the Harvest Festival Celebrated In India?
The harvest festival of Kerela lasts for 10 days and includes numerous rituals, practices, and events that bring out the best parts of Kerela’s culture and tradition. Celebrations include snake boat races, exotic dances, making Pooklam – flower arrangements, prayers, music, feasts, and games like Pulikali and archery. The harvest festival is greeted with immense enthusiasm every year and has an important place in the heart of Keralites.
Which Is the Main Day Of Onam?
According to the Malayalam calendar, Onam falls in the month of Chingam. The Gregorian calendar dates vary with each year. In 2022, the harvest festival beings on the 30th of August, and concludes on the 8th of September. Onam celebrations last for 10 days, each day having a name and unique significance. The days of Onam are sequentially known as Atham, Chithira, Chodhi, Vishakam, Anizham, Thriketa, Moolam, Pooradam, Uthradam, and Thiruvonam. The first and last day of Onam is particularly important as it marks the beginning and the end of the harvest festival.
Celebrate Onam With This Curated Playlist Of Festive Malayali Songs
With a rich heritage and deep rootedness in classical music, Kerala has a lot to offer in terms of music to the world. The Malayalam language is famous for being sweet and melodious even to an untrained ear.
Here’s a curated selection of Onam classics songs to make this year’s harvest festival more prosperous than ever before.
- Uthrada Poonilave Vaa
- Etho Smrithiyil
- Kuttanadan Punjayile
- Thiruvona Pularikal
- Ponn Thiruvonam
- Poovili Poovili
- Malayala Manninde
- Veendum Vannallo
Why Carvaan Malayalam Is The Perfect Gift For Onam?
Carvaan is one of Saregama’s initiatives to bring the greatest music hits of all languages and regions and across all times at your fingertips. For Onam, Carvaan brings two unique offerings tailored for the Malayalam-speaking crowd. These are sure to find their place and resound with one and all. If you want to make your Onam celebrations special this year, Carvaan Malayalam and the Carvaan Mini Malayalam Legends are the perfect fit for you.
A superb offering that combines hours of classic music and over 5000 evergreen songs all fit into a neat device that can be gifted easily, carried freely and played without hassle. The Carvaan Malayalam carries songs from artists like Prem Nazir, Sathyam, S Janaki, & many more. Not just limited to that, there is devotional music the tune to the higher and some of the most classic Carnatic music from the likes of M.S. Subbulakshmi, Dr. M.Balamuralikrishna, Lalgudi Jayaraman, Chitti Babu & Others
Carvaan Mini Malayalam Legends
Carvaan mini is more than just a Bluetooth speaker. It’s the ultimate music companion for people with distinguished taste. Carvaan Mini Malayalam comes with 351 superhit retro Malayalam songs from legends like V Dakshinamoorthy, G Devaranjan, MS Baburaj, Salil Chowdhury and KJ Yesudas. It’s incredibly lightweight, compact, and packs a powerful sound system despite its miniature stature.
So let this Onam be a celebration with a different note. Take your pick between the Carvaan Malayalam or the Carvaan Mini Malayalam, sit back, and enjoy a trip down some of the best songs that the Malayalam language has to offer.
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