Sunday, August 22, 2010

Story of Onam

            The beautiful state of Kerala was once ruled by an asura(demon) king Mahabali who was the grandson of Prahalad . The king was greatly loved and respected in his kingdom and was considered wise, judicious and extremely generous. Kerala witnessed a golden era during the reign of Mahabali and the people were extremely happy. His bravery and strength of character earned him the name Mahabali Chakravathy.

       Though belonging to the asura(demon) dynasty, King Mahabali was a devout worshiper of Lord Vishnu. The Gods were threatened by the popularity of this asura king. They wanted to find a way to put an end to his reign and to reaffirm their own supremacy .Aditi , the mother of the Gods appealed to Lord Vishnu whom Mahabali worshipped, for help.

       King Mahabali was famous for his generosity , Lord Vishnu disguised himself as a dwarf brahmin called Vamana. He approached king Mahabali just as he was finishing his morning prayers and begged for a piece of land. The generous king granted Vamana his wish and asked him how much land he wanted. Vamana asked for three paces of land. At once Shukracharya, the adviser to king Mahabali, sensed that the dwarf was no ordinary brahmin and warned the king. King Mahabali felt it is very unfit for a king to go back on his promise and asked the dwarf brahmin to chose his land. 

       As soon as the king granted the Brahmin his wish the brahmin  increased himself to the size of cosmic proportions. With one step he covered the earth and with the other he covered the skies , next he asked the king for a place where he could keep his foot for the third pace. Knowing that the third step would destroy the earth, the great king with folded arms offered his head for the brahmin to place his foot. Lord Vishnu put his foot on King Mahabali's head and pushed him into patala(underworld). The king on seeing the brahmin's true identity asked for just one boon. 

      The king was so attached to his kingdom and its people that he requested that he be allowed to visit Kerala once a year.Greatly moved by the kind king's devotion for his people Lord Vishnu granted him the wish.

      It is the day of visit of King Mahabali that is celebrated as Onam every year. It is a tribute to the great king's sacrifice .Elaborate preparations are made for the king's homecoming . The people of Kerala show in their celebrations how happy they are and also show how they wish their king well.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


        Long long ago, there lived a boy called Shravan. He was the only son of a poor and blind couple. Shravan loved his parents and his sense of duty towards them was very high. He made it his life concern to take care of his blind parents.He tried to fulfill their every wish.
     One day his parents expressed their wish to go on a holy pilgrimage to Kasi. It was a prevalent belief among hindus that a dip in the holy river Ganges would rid them of a life time of bad karma.
      Shravan at once made arrangements to take them ,he seated them in two baskets slung from either end of a wooden pole which he balanced upon his shoulders.
      The holy city of Kasi was a long way off and Shravan had to walk day and night for long hours.One evening they reached a forest ,Shravan's parents were very thirsty , they asked their son to fetch them some water. Shravan left the baskets under a tree and went to a small stream to get water.
      At the same time in the forest ,King Dasharatha, the king of Ayodhya , was with his hunting party. King Dasharatha was celebrated for his fine marksmanship and could find his target just by hearing a merest whimper .As Shravan was filling his pot , it made a strange gurgling noise. King Dasharatha mistaking the noise for a wild beast ,aimed at the sound and shot his arrow .Only when the arrow hit the mark and Shravan let out a cry did king Dasharatha realize his mistake . He reached the spot as fast as he could and was disheartened to see that his arrow had pierced an young human. He tried to help Shravan but it was too late. Shravan wished King Dasharatha to take the water to his parents and died.
      King Dasharatha , very ashamed to face Shravan's parents went to them and offered the water and asked for their forgiveness for his terrible mistake.
Shravan's parents on learning that their sole caretaker and loving son gone would have none of King Dasharatha's apology, they cursed king Dasharatha to a similar fate as their's . Shravan's father cursed that King Dasharatha would also die of grief from separation from his son.Both Shravan's parents die of grief soon after.
      After many years the curse of Shravan's parents came true. King Dasharatha too died of grief after his son  Lord Rama went into exile to the forests for fourteen years.