Recently, Netflix put together a short video featuring Pearle Maaney explaining the story of Mahabali and Onam. Here are the 4 things that I thought that completely missed the mark in depicting the real spirit of Onam and what Mahabali meant for Malayalees.
Equality Prevailed under King Mahabali
Pearle Maaney’s video starts off with one of the most famous Onam songs of all times “Maveli naadu vaaneedum kaalam”, however, the second verse of the song was restricted to just a humming tune. The second line is actually the most important part. Let me explain why.
So, the second line goes like this, “maanushar ellarum onnu pole”. Which means under the rule of Mahabali, the people of Kerala were all treated equal. Equality prevailed across the land when King Mahabali ruled Kerala.
King Mahabali was an Asura
Here is the next thing that I would like to bring up to especially those who are learning about King Mahabali and trying to understand what type of person he was. He was not a God, in fact he was an Asura king. In spite of being a demon king, he was the most just and benevolent of them all.
Mahabali Story – A King who Kept His Word
It was not that, just before Vamanan put his 3rd step that King Mahabali offered his head, on the other hand, it was because there was nothing else remaining to put the 3rd step of Vamanan. So King Mahabali, offered his own head for Vamanan as the 3rd step, because King Mahabali had promised 3 steps of land for Vamanan even when he knew that Vamanan was going to trick him. This shows that Mahabali was a King who gave everything that his people requested of him, he was a King who kept his word, even if that meant destruction for self.
The Real Spirit of Onam and Mahabali Story
And the most shocking one is this one.
The real spirit or moral of the story of Onam is not this. At least in the present-day Kerala. The real spirit of Onam is that King Mahabali lived for his “praja” or citizens. And when he ruled, people of the entire kingdom lived harmonious, and none had any issues. There were no ailments, no diseases, no COVID. There were no child deaths. No one was able to even find a bad guy or criminal in his kingdom. There was none other than good human beings in his land. People used to sell goods fairly. People were happy. So Onam is that unique occasion where Malayalees across the world celebrate the arrival of their king. Malayalees long for that one day where we believe that our just and noble king will visit us every year. Thiruvonam is that beautiful day when Maveli visits us.
One more Onam has come and gone. Malayalees all over the world celebrated Onam even during this pandemic. We welcomed our dear Mahabali to all our homes with grand splendor.
Onam is the heartbeat of Kerala. It is what defines Kerala. And you will hear that the beat is same for all Malayalees regardless of their caste, creed, religion, location and even if they have been living outside of Kerala for many generations.
This story is still relevant in modern day world, where we all long for a leader like Mahabali who sacrifices himself or herself for the sake of his/her people.
By the way, this is in no way against Pearle Maaney. Pearle Maaney is definitely not a historian and is not expected to know all details of the story of Onam and Mahabali. However, Netflix could have given a better description of the spirit of Onam, especially for the people who are learning it for the first time.
Let us all unite and dream for a day like those Maveli days. Please let us know your opinion in the comments below. If you liked this video, please share it with your friends. Please subscribe if you believe in creating a better tomorrow.