Imagine this place- beautiful with lush green mountains and valleys, adorned with fragrant flowers and silver streams bearing crystal clear cool waters. This magical land where everyone had enough, all were treated equal, there were no crimes and people were happy!
Too good to be true? This is infact the description of my native, Kerala, in an age- old story behind Kerala's unique festival Onam!
The gist of the story is that when Kerala was ruled by the generous King Mahabali, peace, prosperity and happiness prevailed. The main reason behind this was that everyone was treated equal and everyone had enough. Now can you imagine several thousand years ago, when equality was the key theme that kept people together and happy. Unfortunately this is not just too good to be true, but too good to last forever, because politics seemed to have its way even back then! King Mahabali became so popular that even the Gods became jealous! So they schemed against him and got him out of power and place.
The King's only wish was that he be allowed to visit his land and people once a year as he loved his people a lot. This wish of his was granted thankfully! So every year Keralites scuttle and huttle to celebrate and create the air of prosperity, togetherness, and festivity during this time of the year to welcome King Mahabali! The feast- Ona- Sadhya served on Banana Leaf, the flower carpet made outside of each Keralite's house, competitions including Kerala boat race etc are just part of the celebrations. This is indeed a unique festival that brings the people of Kerala together irrespective of religion or social status.
If the spirit of the festival has faded in recent years for whatever reason, let's all take a moment to reconnect to why we celebrate Onam and why we need to come together and stay together more than ever before!