Blog > Mahabali and Money Matters during Onam: How to be financially ready for Onam
Onam: Its History and Significance
King Mahabali was renowned for his benevolence, generosity, and kind nature, so much so that the gods became jealous of his rising popularity. He was, after all, an Asura by birth. The gods approached Lord Vishnu, the preserver, who then took on the form (or “avatar”) of a dwarf brahmin called Vamana, and went to the Mahayagna that Mahabali was conducting.
Shukracharya, Mahabali’s guru, warned him of the threat posed by Vamana, but because Mahabali was large-hearted, he could not turn anyone away. At the end of the yagna, when Mahabali started distributing gifts to those present, Vamana joined the queue. When asked what he wanted, Vamana replied, ‘Just three pieces of land. As soon as Mahabali consented, Vamana miraculously began growing in size. In one step, Vamana covered the entire earth.
In the next step, he covered the entire sky. Vamana had nowhere to place his foot for the third step. Without hesitation, King Mahabali offered his head to Vamana. The fifth avatar of Lord Vishnu then placed his foot on Mahabali’s head and pushed him into the nether world. But Lord Vishnu was greatly pleased by Mahabali’s gesture and granted him his wish that he could visit his land and subjects once every year.
Onam is the celebration of Mahabali’s homecoming. It is the most important festival in Kerala. The region that is now Kerala witnessed a golden era under his reign, which is why it now hosts a grand welcome for its beloved king that goes on for a good ten days. The uniqueness of this festival stems from the fact that it transcends religion, caste, and race, and is regarded as a celebration of togetherness, of life. The entire state comes together and performs community activities as a show of continued happiness and wellness to the homecoming king. And as a result, celebrating Onam is not exactly an inexpensive affair.
There is grandeur, there is lavishness, and there are sizable expenses incurred by every family on everything from feasting, new clothes, and jewelry to planning large purchases so that they coincide with Onam festivities.
Let’s learn a little more about Onam, and then understand how you can celebrate it in a way that doesn’t break the bank.
How is Onam celebrated?
Onam is a ten-day festival, with each day carrying its own significance. Onnam Onam or the ‘first day of Onam’ falls on the day of the star Atham, followed by random Onam (second day of Onam) on Chithira, the third day on Chodi, and the next six on Vishakam, Anizham, Thriketta, Moolam, Pooradam, and Uthradom; these make up the first nine days of Onam. Thiruvonam, as the last day of Onam and the culmination of the festivities, is the most important day of the year. Thiruvonam is celebrated on the first day of the month of Chingam, which marks the beginning of the Malayalam year.
In Kerala, Onam is celebrated with great enthusiasm and fervor! The 10 days are marked by deep cleaning houses and repainting, designing Pookalams or flower carpets in open areas, and women doing the Kaikottikali - a form of dance that involves clapping hands and moving in circles around a pookalam. Men too participate in revelry - there are carnivals, processions, and competitions organized.
Vallamkali or snake boats race down the backwaters to the chants of men in unison, and mahouts make their elephants run across the roads in a thundering show of might. Men with bodies painted like lions and tigers prance in Pulikali, and makeshift stages and tents host Kathakali, Ottamthullal, Mohiniyattam, and other performances throughout the night.
The highlight of Onam is relishing the grand feasts of over 26 dishes served on a banana leaf. Popularly called the Onam Sadhya, it is an experience of gastric delight. Also, gold is purchased during this time to mark prosperity (That’s a finance lesson right there!).
In sum, Onam is a grand celebration of life, culture, values, sacrifices, people, food, and art, where people from all walks of life come together to celebrate and welcome King Mahabali home.
This is undoubtedly reason enough to celebrate Onam in a grand manner. However, at the same time, it is also important to be mindful of more practical matters, such as making sure that such a celebration does not harm one’s financial well-being. Let’s better understand how we can balance pomp and gaiety with financial prudence.
Ensuring a financially healthy Onam
Given the importance of Onam to Malayali people, it is relatively easy for a well-meaning Malayali to get carried away and spend too much on Onam festivities, leading to regret once the joy has subsided. Conversely, a lack of financial prudence can also place people in the unfortunate situation of being unable to properly celebrate the most important festival of the year.
Not all is dark and gloomy, however. There are several modern financial solutions, such as the personal loans offered by IndiaLends, that can help you accommodate a need for funds. Moreover, with just a handful of powerful financial principles, anyone can plan their finances in such a way that they can do Onam justice while also exercising financial prudence.
Let’s take a look at a few evergreen principles that can help you handle your finances wisely.
● Pay attention to your spending and financial choices
When Vamana (Lord Vishnu) visited king Mahabali, his guru Shukracharya immediately recognized that the Vamana was none other than Lord Vishnu himself. The king was blinded by his own benevolence and was engrossed in the enchanting words of Vamana that he paid no heed when Shukracharya tried to warn him.
Just like Shukracharya, in our daily financial life too, there are many moments that demand attention and many signs that may try to warn us of future uncertainties. It is important that we pay heed to them. Pay attention to what market moods are, what insurance premium percentages are, where interest rates could move next, etc., Move with caution when dealing with personal loans, derivatives, and such instruments.
Most importantly, listen to your Gurus. Your gurus in the financial world can be your financial advisors, markets, and even your own experiences! Take your lessons and keep moving forward.
Remember, there will always be signs out there. You will need to just catch them at the right time. This will require patience, diligence, and discipline at your end. So, can you commit to these virtues for a better financial future? Ask yourself.
● Have faith
King Mahabali offered his head as a place for Lord Vishnu to place his foot. There can be no better example of such faith and devotion.
It’s often said there is no bigger thing than faith! And, how true is that?
Your financial life will also test your faith many times. Do you have the faith that you will do well financially and retire comfortably? Do you have faith that despite all things moving opposite, your portfolio will do well? Do you have faith in your own discipline, research, and choices? Look deep internally, and you shall find your answers.
Onam is a celebration of king Mahabali’s faith. The principle remains internal centuries later. Your faith will direct your financial life to a large extent. Keep your faith high and watch the wonders of finance disclose.
● Be ready to sacrifice
As per legends, king Mahabali was a very powerful Asura (demon), who had even defeated Lord Indra, and reached over to rule heaven. However, the same powerful king was ready to sacrifice his head when he stood before Lord Vishnu.
Our financial lives would also require us to make some sacrifices, often not pleasant. For instance, you may be tempted to buy that car or draw that personal loan, or you may be tempted to try the derivative markets to make some extra profits. The latest phone on the market may catch your eye. But can you let it all go? Can you sacrifice that vacation and save for the future? Can you sacrifice your indulgence today for a better financial future tomorrow?
It’s tricky to navigate the financial world, which constantly demands trade-offs. But, how much you are willing to sacrifice for your personal, mental, and financial well-being ultimately determines your path to success.
● Avoid greed and attachment
When Vamana asked for land that could be measured in his 3 steps, king Mahabali didn’t hesitate to grant the same. The king was not greedy for his possessions or attached to his wealth.
Avarice, unfortunately, is the guiding force for many in the world of finance – The greed to make more profits or the greed to amass excessive wealth. Attachment to your gains or wealth is just another side of the same coin. Often this greed and attachment can lead you to make some unwise decisions.
Bringing vices like greed and attachment to your life is a call for disaster. In reality, financial contentment is true wealth.
The bottom line
Onam is one of the biggest celebrations across Malayali communities which has several lessons to teach us. Beyond the spiritual and cultural aspects, however, preparing for Onam can also be looked upon as a wonderful opportunity to exercise financial prudence and wisdom in all aspects of your life.
So this year, while enjoying your Sadhya, remember the simple but useful financial principles discussed above. And also remember that IndiaLends’ low-interest personal loans can be an integral part of smart financial planning when you have big-ticket purchases lined up this Onam!