Onam 2018 starts from today, 15 August 2018, and Malayalis around the world are all set to welcome the Hindu mythological king Mahabali. The popular Hindu festival is celebrated in the south Indian state of Kerala and is a harvest festival. According to the Malayalam calendar, Onam falls in the month of Chingam, which is the first month of the calendar. Therefore, Onam celebrations mark the beginning of the Malayalam New Year and are spread over a period of 10 days. The celebration of Onam is characterised by the organisation of a grand boat race (Vallam Kali), tiger dance (Pulikali), mask dance (Kumattikali) as well as the ritualistic martial arts performance of onathallu. Singing of folk songs and dance performances are a big part of this festival. Malayalis all over the world mark the beginning of their year by indulging in Onam rituals and celebrations.
Onam 2018 Date, Time And Significance
Onam 2018 has started from today, August 15 2018, and will end on August 27 2018. The first day of festival, also known as Atham, begins with the raising of the festival flag at Vamanamoorthy Thrikkakara temple in Kochi. This temple is the focal point of Onam celebrations. The celebrations include colourful parades with tableaux depicting the beautiful culture of the state. The significance of Onam is due to the commemoration of the Vamana (the fifth avatar of Lord Vishnu), as well as the subsequent homecoming of the demon King Mahabali - the great, great grandson of a Brahmin sage named Kashyapa. Legend has it that Mahabali came to power by defeating the Gods and he eventually took over the three worlds.
In their battle against Mahabali, the Gods, or devas, had approached Lord Vishnu to help them defeat the king. But, Lord Vishnu was reluctant to join the war, as Mahabali was a much-loved and good ruler, and a staunch devotee of his own. However, Lord Vishnu decided to test Mahabali's devotion and took the vamana avatar, wherein he turned into a dwarf boy. After defeating the devas, Mahabali had declared that would perform a yajna. Mahabali had also said that he would grant anyone any request during the yajna. So, Lord Vishnu approached Mahabali, disguised as a dwarf, during the yajna and the kind King promised to give him whatever he desired.
Lord Vishnu then told the King that all he wanted was a piece of land, measuring three paces in length, to which the King agreed. However, he then grew in size and covered everything King Mahabali ruled over in just two paces. When there was no land left to measure out the third pace with, Mahabali offered himself - as an act of extreme sacrifice - which Lord Vishnu took as a show of his undying devotion for himself. Overjoyed by Mahabali's sacrifice, Lord Vishnu granted him a boon, saying that once a year, Mahabali will be able to visit his kingdom - the lands and his people that he had previously ruled. Onam is a celebration of the annual return of King Mahabali and a reminder of everything that he stood for - humility, devotion and virtuousness.
Onam 2018 Feast: Onam Sadhya
The legendary pure vegetarian Onam feast, also known as Onam Sadhya, comprises 26 sensational dishes and is one of the most important parts of Onam celebrations. There is a set order in which the dishes are served during the Onam feast, wherein the meals are only served on fresh, clean banana leaves. People sit cross-legged on floor mats to enjoy the Onam Sadhya. Even the placement of the dishes on the banana leaf is pre-set and cannot be messed around with. Starting out from the extreme left of the leaf, a pappadum is placed, on top of which banana is served. On the right of the pappadum, salt, sarakarapuratti and banana wafers are placed. Ginger lime and mango pickles come next, followed by cabbage thoran, avial and kuttu curry. The guests are then allowed to be seated in front of each leaf and only then rice is served. Just two spoonful of rice is served on each leaf, followed by a generous helping of rich, desi ghee. Pulissery, sambhar and rasam are poured over the rice, completing the first course of the feast. The next comes round two, which begins with a serving of rice and some desserts like kadalapayasam. The final course consists of rice and buttermilk, which ends the sumptuous Sadhya feast.