Residents of the coastal South Indian state of Kerala celebrated their new year Onam, on September 7. The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also wished everyone on the occasion and tweeted to his followers, “Its wonderful how all sections of Malayali society come together to celebrate Onam, making it a wonderful occasion of national integration”. Modi was speaking of Malayalis, the speakers of the language of Malayalam, who generally reside in the state of Kerala.
Traditional celebrations include the spreading of Pookalams or flower mats, within homes, as people enjoy the festival food which is also called Onasadya. The Kerala Tourism Ministry is conducted a week of cultural celebrations to promote Onam and create awareness about tourism opportunities within the state. The celebrations began on September 5 and will close on September 11. The tourism celebrations include Kathakali concerts, the traditional dance of Kerala that is performed with masks and intricate hand movements. Also part of the celebrations are Kalaripayattu displays. Kalaripayattu or Kalari is an ancient marital art form native to South India. There were also vocal recitation competitions held for children to repeat verbatim the Vedas, the scriptures of the Hindu way of life.
Kerala is undergoing a spell of inflation and the government has opened up civil supply shops to pull down spiraling prices. Whether this will put a dampener of continued celebrations remains to be seen.
Major temples such as the Padmanabhaswamy temple, the Guruvayur temple to Lord Krishna and the Ayappa temple at Sabarimala were inundated by the faithful looking for the lord’s blessings on this auspicious occasion.
According to the legend, Onam is the day when the king of asuras or demons, Mahabali, was defeated by the dwarf Vamana, the fourth incarnation of the Lord Vishnu. Mahabali is said to have been buried in the earth by Vamana’s foot, near Kerala, from where he cannot come out and recover, thus leaving the earth free from his influence.