Onam, one of the major festivals of Kerala is rightfully known as 'carnival of Kerala'.
Celebrated for a period ranging from four to ten days, Onam marks the initialization of harvest season in the state. The festivities of Onam in Kerala include ten complete days of fun, frolic and merriment along with Onam dances, songs as well as boat races. Regarded as a perfect occasion to thank the Supreme Power, Onam celebrations wear an exquisite look throughout Kerala.
The celebrations of Onam in Kerala start with extravagant processions of Trichur and astonishing boat races, especially on the River Pampa. In addition, the ladies dress up beautifully in sarees and decorate their homes with rangolis as well as 'pookkalam', which is made with fragrant flowers.
Special prayers are offered to Lord Vishnu for seeking His blessings. Women also perform special Onam dances by the name of Thiruvathirakali. A special feast known as sadya is prepared for the lunch time that includes rice, vegetable curries, pickles as well as payasam.
he legend of Onam revolves around king Bali, the demon king who ruled over Kerala in the ancient times.The Divine Gods got very scared because of the king's growing popularity and asked Lord Vishnu to help them out. Lord Vishnu took the disguise of Vamana, a dwarf Brahmin and appeared before King Bali when he was performing a yagna.
Asking for a boon, the Vamana asked King Bali to gift him the land that he could (Vamana) could cover with his three footsteps. Seeing the dwarfness of Vamana, King Bali readily agreed. Vamana, then increased his height and with one footstep covered the entire earth, with another he covered the Heaven and with the third pushed King Bali to the deep undergrounds. King Bali readily accepted this punishment but asked for a boon to visit his kingdom once every year. Lord Vishnu readily granted him this boon and since then the return of King Bali to the kingdom came to be celebrated in the form of Onam.