Onam is more than just a ‘hindu’ festival

Posted by Vijay Srinivas
September 4, 2017

Self-Published

The battle between the good and the evil is common everywhere. It is the good that usually emerges successful in all these battles. Rama is good while Ravana is evil. Pandavas supported by Lord Krishna is good and Gauravas are evil. Goddess Durga is good while Mahishasuran is evil. But an exception to all this is the battle between Vamana and Mahabali. The way the history is remembered and celebrated by Malyalis everywhere, especially in the ‘Gods Own Country’ Kerala is literally a great source of fascination.

Mahabali was an extraordinary ruler of Kerala. His period of ruling was a time of great prosperity and happiness. Something which usually occurs in those ancient times, the devtas were really jealous about this legendary King. They were really scared that his sacredness could even make him to rule their heaven and they went to Lord Vishnu pleading him to purge the earth of Mahabali. Mahabali was actually an Asura and did not have faith in human inequalities and this had been a natural choice for Lord Vishnu to accept the request of the Devtas.

Vishnu in his avatar as Vamana approached Mahabali. The king looked upon him with sympathy and asked for what he needs. Vamana replied that he needs land while Mahabali replied he would give him as much as he need. Vamana interestingly said he want the amount of land that he could cover within three steps. Mahabali accepted Vamana’s request.

Vamana then took his Vishwaroopam (huge form). In the first step, he covered the earth, the second he covered the waters and in order to protect the world, Mahabali placed his head below the foot of the legendary Vamana placing the third step.

Inorder to appease the people of Kerala who were distraught at his death, the King Mahabali was allowed to return to Kerala for ten days every year. Malyalis celebrate this period as ‘Onam’.

There are lots of efforts had been taken to change the whole meaning of this Onam festival.

Sangh Parivar is now trying to come out as a powerful political force in Kerala. It has placed its attack on the King Mahabali advising people to worship Vamana instead of celebrating the King Mahabali.

K.P. Sasikala, the state president of the Hindu Aikya Vedi (Hindu Unity Front), has even said that “Vamana freed Kerala from the imperialist ruler Mahabali. He should be hailed as a freedom fighter.”

Unnikrishnan Namboorthiri, a professor of Sanskrit at the Government Sanskrit College, wrote on Kesari Weekly that Onam was earlier celebrated as Vamana Jayanthi.

VHP and other Hindu groups had even opposed to place the statue of Mahabali near Vamana temple in Ernakulam this year.

While the people of RSS wanted to celebrate ‘Onam’ as a Hindu festival where Vamana is worshipped and not the King Mahabali and there are certain Islamic fundamentalists urging muslims not to celebrate Onam as it is a Hindu festival. No matter what, Keralites are truly committed in celebrating this festival in a grand manner irrespecctive of caste and community, singing on the Onam song,”Maveli (Mahabali) Naadu vaaneetum kaalam, maanushar ellarum onnupole”.

Sangh Parivar has not just tumbled Kerala but also trying to impose its agenda over the people of Kerala by replacing Onam with Vamana Jayanthi.

Undoubtedly, the legendary King Mahabali is really worthy of respect for all his good deeds that he has done to his people.

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