By myths, King Mahabali was a virtuous and generous ruler who ruled Kerala once. As a result of his rule, the realm became so flourishing that the devas (Gods of Heaven) felt jealous and also because King Mahabali was an asura - a member of the demon clan - which were antagonistic to the devas. Thus, they sent Lord Vishnu to King Mahabali in the form of Vamana (a dwarf). Vamana asked Mahabali for three feet of land as an offering from the king. At the time when Vamana measured the three feet of land, he was so enormous that he measured the entire universe in two steps. Due to the lack of room for a third step, Mahabali asked Vamana to place it on his head. After Mahabali's departure from this world, Vamana blessed him with his benevolence and permitted him to visit his dear subjects once a year. Keralites celebrate Onam to commemorate this event. Onam is also celebrated during the time of the year when Kerala's harvests are abundant and happy, making that month a time of celebration for several reasons.
During Onam, the celebrations are driven by colors, flavors, and sounds that come from all corners of God's Own Country. Yet it is Thiruvonam that marks the peak of the celebrations. King Mahabali is celebrated during Onam, to honor his return to the earth and bring communities from all around the world together for unified celebrations. Traditional art forms and games are everywhere, and homes are kept clean and impeccably maintained. The festivals throughout Kerala are celebrated with lavish feasts (Onamsadya), which conclude with sweet payasam (Kerala dessert), spreading a message of oneness and hope.