Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Onam, the story of Mahabali

Long back when no one knew how to read or write there was a small kingdom in GOC, where the people led very happy contended lives. The ruling King had no name. People knew very little about him, but he was thought to be  very strong and wise. So he was referred to as 'The strong man' (Maha balishtan or Mahabali in Malayalam)
No one had ever seen him or heard him. But the bright lamps, lit every day at sun set, at the castle on the hill, where he lived alone, declared his presence.

The people paid their taxes in the form of the best food stuffs, cloth and oil for the lamps. They vied with each other to make the best kind in everything which were then handpicked with great care and offered to the king. When ever new & innovative farm implements or arms were made, those too were placed in a hall at the entrance of the fort. The doctors who developed new effective medicines also did the same.

The king kept only the ones he approved. The others were returned damaged, after inspection, which very rarely occurred as the offerings where made after much thought. The manufacturing of such defective products was not taken up but tried to improve upon. The kingdom progressed in all fields and people were happy and contented.

The distant kings heard about the king and his people but were afraid to attack because the greatness of the goods and services available in the kingdom.
Years passed. A young king from a far away land attacked the kingdom with a large army. Even after the siege of fort for 3 weeks, no sign of distress showed. The young king was worried as he was running out of food and provisions and his soldiers were becoming restless. The young Conquerer decided to find out how the soldiers in the fort survived so many days.

He spent a night alone at a hiding place very near the castle and observed the castle through the night. There was no need at all to fight, he realised,The sole occupant of the fort was an old man.
The old man was very weak, with the vital medical supplies cut off, he could hardly walk. He was glad to see the young man.

His only request was
' Please do not tell my people their king was a weak old man. instead you can claim that you were able to defeat me as you are an avatar of the great god Vishnu'. 

The young man promised to keep the secret and the old king departed happily.

The new king kept his promise. He declaration to the people of the kingdom stated that he was able to defeat the great king and send him to Pathalam ( The underworld ) as he was an avatar of Vishnu & as a gesture of acknowledgement of his benevolence Maveli is allowed to visit his people once a year.

Every year on that day the people of the kingdom made offerings of the things they thought were good enough for their king, though there was no one to approve it.

Even today the practice, known as ONAM, continues in GOC as a festival.

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