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Festivals - Onam

Onam falls on Daadshi of Bhadrapad or the 12th day of the waxing moon in Bhadon (in August-September), when the rice fields have been harvested. It is two days before Anant Choudesh, when the immersion ceremony of Lord Ganesh is being celebrated in Maharashtra and some of the other states of India.


The people of Kerala count the days of a month according to the moon cycle; each day is dedicated to a star and has a distinct name. The stars, like the tith, may ovelap or vanish altogether, thereby sometimes resulting in two days dedicated to the same star, or not having one particular star at all in a given month (depending on whether the star is at the position which determines the day). The calculation tallies with the lunar calendar. The date of course changes every year according to the English calendar. It is best ascertained by using an almanac (jantri or panchang).


Onam has become the festival for everyone in Kerala and has been declared a national festival by the government. It is celebrated with great fervour irrespective of caste or cerrd. It is, of course, a harvest festival but during this time, after the harvest, everyone rejoices with thoughts of the time of Bali, who brought great peace to this land.
The people of Kerala are 100 per cent educated, but are very simple in their habits and dress.


The women mostly wear off-white saris made of cotton, although terrycot and pastel shades are becoming popular. On festive days the sari worn has a zari in the center. Glaring designs are shunned.All women wear flowers - jasmine in single or double strands decorate the hair, falling alongside single plaits of hair. On festive occasions flowers are woven into intricate designs and put on the base of the head. A strand of jasmine or any small seasonal flower is a temptation to which most women, old or young, succumb. Women in South India do not cover their heads as they do in the north.


The men wear lungis with zari for occasions, otherwise too the lungi is the common dress for men. The upper part of the body has cloth known as the waist or a little higher. This is also off-white, with zari for occasions. Nowadays, shirts or kurtas are worn as upper garments and the lungi or dhoti still worn around the waist and legs. The Keralites often pick up their long lungi from the lower ends and tuck it into the waist, thus making it into a half lungi and allowing the legs free movement in water.


The story of Mahabali or 'Bali' is told in the Bhagwt Purana. Bali was a noble, generous righteous and powerful king who ruled with justice, wisdom and generosity. Although he was an asur, no devta was as noble, in thought or action, as him. He never refused anyone who asked for a boon. He did the Vicwajit Yagna under the guidance of Guru Sukre (who is the guru of all asurs). This bestowed on him the strength of the three worlds.


No one could stand against Bali. The people loved him and he glowed like a jewel. He looked so handsome that Indra ( the king of the devtas who was always afraid that his throne would be taken by someone who became too noble) got very jealous.Indra had, time and again, foiled the divinity reached by several sages who had by their actions or tap (great meditation) nearly reached his stature. This time the devtas approached Vishnu to come to their aid. Narayan (Vishnu) was aware that an asur dynasty would not in the end be good for the earth and so took the Vaman avtar as the son of Aditi and Kashyap, and remained in the f

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