Onam is an annual Hindu festival that is celebrated in the southern state of Kerala in India. It falls in the month of Chingam in Malayalam calendar which correlates to August-September in the Gregorian calendar. This year Onam will be celebrated from Friday August 25, 2017 to Wednesday September 6, 2017. Onam is the official state festival of Kerala with public holidays that start four days from Onam Eve (Uthradom). The festival commemorates the mythologies of Mahabali, Vamana (an avatar of Lord Vishnu), Kashyapa and Parashurama from Hinduism. Onam is the most important festival of Malayali people from Kerala and is celebrated with much fan fare all over the world wherever they are based. The festivities include boat races, tiger dances, flower arrangement in the form of rangolis, prayers, tug of war, dances by women, mask dance which is performed by men, martial arts, music and offerings made of plantains, costumes, folk songs and dance.

Onam although is a Hindu festival but it is also celebrated by non-Hindus because it is seen as a state festival and binds all the people from Kerala. The festival also celebrates rice harvest. Onam is most commonly associated with the legend of Mahabali and Vamana (Vishnu’s avatar) which extol the benevolent nature and devotion of Mahabali and the ingenuity of Lord Vishnu in the Vamana avatar. Onam 2017 Date: Significance, Celebrations and Muhurat Timings

According to legend, Mahabali was a ruler who had defeated the Devas and taken over the three worlds. He declared that he will perform a yajna and would grant anyone’s wish. So Lord Vishnu took the form of a dwarf and asked him for three paces of land, Mahabali agreed. Vamana then increased his size and for the first two paces he covered all the kingdom of Mahabali, for his third pace the latter offered him his head because no land was left. Vamana or Lord Vishnu liked his devotion and gave him a boon that once a year he can visit all his land that he previously ruled. Hence, Onam is celebrated to welcome King Mahabali.

Twitter was abuzz with wishes for Onam, here are a select few:

Happy Onam

Onam is a vibrant festival

Onam at Experion Technologies

Happy Onam and Ganesh Chaturthi

Onam at Vadakkumnathan temple grounds, Thrissur

Colourful Onam

Kerala celebrating Atham

The first day of Onam called Atham is being celebrated today along with the auspicious festival of Ganesh Chaturthi. On the last day of Onam, a nine-course vegetarian Onasadya feast is cooked which is eaten by all the devotees. The story of Mahabali and the festival of Onam is also important because it emphasizes the belief of Hinduism that events have a cyclical nature and no individual or ruler lasts forever except virtues, traditions, lessons and righteous deeds.