Take an extra long bath, put on your prettiest mundum neriyathum, look forward to some Kaikottakali and smile brightly– Mahabali is coming home, and we don’t want him to know we are forlorn without him.
What’s that you say? You have no idea what I’m talking about? Fret not, almost no one ever does. The tale of Onam and Kerala’s most beloved King is available for your edification, below.
The story goes that the beautiful state of Kerala was once ruled by an Asura (demon) king, Mahabali. The King was greatly respected in his kingdom and was considered to be wise, judicious and extremely generous. It is said that Kerala witnessed its golden era in the reign of King Mahabali. Everybody was happy in the kingdom, there was no discrimination on the basis of caste or class. Rich and poor were equally treated. There was neither crime, nor corruption. People did not even lock their doors, as there were no thieves in that kingdom. There was no poverty, sorrow or disease in the reign of King Mahabali and everybody was happy and content.
It may be noted Mahabali was the son of Veerochana and grandson of Prahlad, the devout son of demon King Hiranyakashyap. Mahabali had a son called Bana, who became a legendary king in his own right and became popular as Banraj in central Assam. Mahabali belonged to the Asura (demon) dynasty but was an ardent worshiper of Lord Vishnu. His bravery and strength of character earned him the title of “Mahabali Chakravathy” or Mahabali – the King of Kings.
Looking at the growing popularity and fame of King Mahabali, Gods became extremely concerned and jealous. They felt threatened about their own supremacy and began to think of a strategy to get rid of the dilemma.