Carnatic Music-Singer KS Chithra Images from Google ONAM – THE FESTIVAL OF FLOWERS
Onam is an annual harvest festival, celebrated mainly in the southern tropical state of Kerala in India. It is the foremost festival among the cultural repertoire of Malayalees, and falls during the month of Chingam (August-September as per the Gregorian calendar), the first month of the Malayalam calendar and lasts for ten days
Folklore states that it is the time of the year when Mahabali, legendary ruler of yesteryears, returns from his home in the depths of the nether world to visit his subjects. The festival is to welcome the spirit of King Mahabali, and to assure him that his people are happy and wish him well. The myth goes like this...
The Devas or Gods were worried over the wise and good rule of Mahabali, the Asura king, thinking that he might become too powerful. They sought the help of Vishnu (the Preserver in the Hindu trinity) to curb Mahabali's power. Vishnu, in the form of a dwarf called Vamana, approached him and was offered a boon by the king
The Vamana asked for three paces of land and the king agreed to it. Soon the dwarf began to expand and with the first step, he covered the sky, blotting out the stars, and with the second, he straddled the nether world. Realizing that Vamana's third step will destroy the earth, Mahabali offered his head as the last step. The Gods were glad, but since Mahabali was so attached to his kingdom and the subjects and was very much loved by the people, he was allowed to return once a year .
The Onam Festival is celebrated with flower decorations. Every year, women and children create a multi-colored floral decoration on the ground in the front of their home called an Athappookkalam. This flower decoration is like a symbol of welcoming the King Mahabali.
On the fourth Onam day groups of people from all over Thrissur paint their bodies in the likeness of tigers in bright yellow, red and black, and wearing tiger masks, come to the Swaraj Ground in processions and there present a grand pulikali (tiger dance) to the beats of instruments like udukku and thakil Tiger Dance ( Pulikali )