Thiruvananthapuram: Keralites on Saturday celebrated 'Onam,' the harvest festival of the state, as major temples including Sree Krishna Temple at Guruvayur and Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple here and Sree Parthasarathi Temple at Aranmula witnessed heavy rush of devotees since early morning.
Due to the flood havoc, the Government has earlier cancelled all the Onam celebrations to concentrate on rescue and rehabilitation of flood victims as more than eight lakh people are still staying in various relief camps in Kerala.
However, people joined together in a few places to celebrate 'Thiruvonam' in the memory of the mythical ruler king Mahabali.'Onasadya,' consisting of traditional delicacies such as 'avial,' 'sambar,' 'thoran,' 'kichadi,' 'kalan,' 'pulisseri,' 'pappadam,' 'pazham' and 'payasam,' were served at many relief camps across Kerala as part of the celebrations.
This exclusive feast is served on green plantain(banana) leaves in a traditional manner.Onam is the most important national festival of Kerala which is celebrated in the Malayalam month of 'chingam' corresponding to the English month of August/September. The festival marks the end of continuous monsoon rainfall and beginning of the harvest season.
However, this year, the unprecedented rains caused damage to agriculture in many places including Kuttanad in Alappuzha and Palakkad.
Keralites believe that the soul of their beloved king Mahabali, who was very much attached to his kingdom and his subjects, used to visit the land every year. Lord Vishnu in his Vamana avatar, granted king Mahabali a boon to return once in a year to his beloved kingdom from the nether world into which he was pushed down.
The day of his return is celebrated as the Thiruvonam festival.However, due to flood disaster, various cultural programmes, including boat races, procession of caparisoned elephants, fireworks, kathakali and mohiniattam dances, were cancelled by the tourism authorities.
Tourism Department-sponsored week-long Onam celebrations was also cancelled in the capital city for the first time due to flood ravage.Kerala Governor Justice (Retd) P Sathasivam and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan have greeted the people of the state on the occasion of Onam.