Happy Onam (animation)

Prahlada’s grandson Mahabali came to power by defeating the gods (Devas), and taking over the three worlds. According to Vaishnavism mythology, the defeated Devas approached Vishnu for help in their battle with Mahabali. Vishnu refused to join the gods in violence against Mahabali, because Mahabali was a good ruler and his own devotee. He, instead, decided to test Mahabali’s devotion at an opportune moment. Mahabali, after his victory over the gods, declared that he will perform Yajna (homa sacrifices) and grant anyone any request during the Yajna.

Vishnu took the Vamana  avatar of a dwarf Brahmin boy carrying a wooden umbrella, and approached Mahabali. The king offered anything to the boy – gold, cows, elephants, villages, food, whatever he wished. The boy said that one must not seek more than one needs, and all he needs is the property right over a piece of land that measures “three paces”. Mahabali agreed against the warning of his guru, Shukracharya ,thinking of the limitations of the space of his foot. The Vamana grew gigantic proportions and covered everything Mahabali ruled over in just two paces. He stepped from heaven to earth with the first step, from earth to the netherworld with the second. King Mahabali, unable to fulfill his promise, for the third pace, Mahabali offered himself to the Vamana.

The festival of Onam for some is related to this return of Mahabali to a visit to earth once every year in August-September. Some texts state that Vamana gave the lordship of the netherworld to Bali.

In giant form, Vamana is known as Trivikrama.

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