Happy Onam

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Tomorrow is Onam. Onam, considered to be the most popular festival in Kerala (the southern state of India), is celebrated every year in memory of an Asura King Mahabali, who was pushed down to the core of the earth by ‘little’ Vamana, an avatar of Vishnu. In Hindu religion, they believe in a Trinity, who are in charge of the three main processes of creation, protection and destruction. Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are the trio, who are entitled to perform the acts of creation, protection and destruction respectively. All other Gods in Hindu religion – thousands of them – are supposed to be either their descendants or an alternate form of one of them. In fact the term ‘GOD’ itself is considered to be an acronym for Generator, Operator and Destructor. Coming back to the story behind the Onam celebrations, Kerala was once ruled by the Asura king Mahabali, under whom the land prospered, much to the envy of Gods. They all wanted to terminate the asura king and for that they seeked the help of Lord Vishnu – one of the Trinity. Lord Vishnu assumed the form of a small brahmin Vamana and went to Mahabali requesting for three footsteps of land. Mahabali, out of his generosity, offered him the same without a second thought. At that point of time, the little Vamana grew physically in such a manner that his two footsteps covered the universe in its entirety. He did not find any more space for his third footstep. Mahabali, with an intention not to break his promise to Vamana, bowed before the brahmin and offered his head as a place for his third footstep. Vamana placed his foot on Mahabali’s head and pushed him down to the core of the earth forever. However, Lord Vishnu was kind enough to grant the asura King, the privilege of visiting his people once in every year. And so he comes to the land of Kerala, every year, on the day of Onam. I’m sure, as always, the people in Kerala would be welcoming Mahabali with the same pomp and show as they have been doing for long long years. I would miss the show being away from home. But that’s okay. Happy Onam!

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