Celebrating Onam; Kerala’s harvest festival

Celebrating Onam; Kerala’s harvest festival
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Celebrating Onam; Kerala’s harvest festival, Onam celebrations in the city have begun well in advance. Apollo Health City in Jubilee Hills hosted Onam celebrations at its premises on Saturday.

Though Onam would be celebrated today by Keralites everywhere, the city saw the festival being celebrated well in advance

Onam celebrations in the city have begun well in advance. Apollo Health City in Jubilee Hills hosted Onam celebrations at its premises on Saturday. Nurses, faculty and many others joined in to celebrate the festival, a typical Onasadya was served after the celebration.
 Nurses at Apollo made a Pookalam at the hospital to mark the celebration
This was third in the catalog of Onam celebrations by various associations in the city, the first event was organised by the Nair Service Society at Mahendra Reddy Gardens, Medchal Road, and the second event was hosted by Tharavad at Maneesha Gardens, near Kushaiguda Bus Depot, Moula Ali.

While associations have already started the festivities, families were seen gearing up to celebrate the festival on a good note. 21-year-old Ramya Nair got into a semi-fasting mood the day before Onam. “Not for any religious reasons,” she says.
 Ona oonjal, one of the traditions of Onam
It's just that she needs to have extra space in her stomach to consume the traditional Onam feast on Sunday. The sheer number of traditional delicacies served is mind-boggling. And on Onam day before the feast, Ramya along with her family will offer prayers at the Guruvayoorappan temple at Lothkunta.

A festival mainly celebrated by Malayalees, Onam this year falls on this Sunday. It's Kerala's harvest festival and has a mythological tale surrounding it. It's celebrated to mark the return of Asura king Mahabali who comes to visit his people on Thiruvonam day every year from the netherworld to where he was banished by Lord Vishnu. Under Mahabali’s reign, there was peace, prosperity and abundance.
 Kaikottikali as part of Onam festivities by NSS
As per mythology, Mahabali, the grandson of Prahlad, was a righteous king. Prahlad was a devotee of Lord Vishnu and Mahabali, too, eventually became one. Bali was a powerful king who defeated the Gods and won over heaven. Fearing his astronomical power, the Gods pleaded with Vishnu to save them. Vishnu then took the avataar of Vamana (a diminutive Brahmin) and approached the charitable king and was asked what he wished to have. Vishnu sought three measures of land (to be measured by his feet). Not knowing that Vamana was Vishnu, Mahabali granted the wish. Vishnu soon grew to his Lordly size, and with one stride covered all of Heaven, and with the second all of earth. “Where shall I put my foot next for the third measure,” Vishnu asked Bali. The humbled king went down on his knee and urged Vishnu to place the divine leg on his head. He knew Vishnu would send him to the netherworld, and hence placed a request that he be allowed to return to his beloved land and see his people once every year.
  Welcoming the Mahabali
People celebrate the day of Mahabali’s return by wearing new clothes, visiting holy shrines and indulging in a sumptuous feast. Most houses in Kerala would have floral carpets(pookalam) adorning their courtyards on the day.

“Many people come here in the morning to pray,” said a priest at Guruvayoorappan Temple at Lothkunta. Hotels in the city, too, celebrate Onam. Some like Uttupura in Banjara Hills and Country Club would serve the Onasadya, which consist 24 traditional dishes on plantain leaf.

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