According to the legend, Kerala was prospering under the reign of the demon king Bali. People were happy as there was no discrimination amongst based on caste or creed, no poverty and no disease. His growing popularity some what threatened the Gods. He was tricked by Vamana – Vishnu into giving up his entire kingdom. Vamana dressed as a sage asked the king for three steps of land. The egoistic King Bali guffawed and granted the sage his wish.
The sages in his first step covered the entire earth and by second the entire heaven. By now, the king knew that he was no ordinary sage. To honor his words King Bali asked the sage to place the third step on his head; following which he was kicked into the nether world. However, before that the benevolent King was granted a wish – that on a day each year the king will be allowed to return to the earth and to be with his people and see the kingdom he once ruled. Since then Onam is observed by all Keralites as the return of their favorite ruler. The festival is celebrated by all malayalees despite their religion.
Onam falls in the month of August / September. This 10 day long festival comes with highlights such as Snake boat race (Vallamkali) on river Pampa, intricately designed flower mats in the front courtyard of the house made by family members to welcome King Bali (pookalam), dance merriment and of course Onam sadya which by the way is purely vegetarian by nature.
How can there be a festival without yummy food! Check out for Kerala recipes whole of month of August and September 2010 on Akshayapatram.