MahaBali was the grandson of Prahlada. He was a very strong and learned king of knowledge. He used to keep everyone happy. He used to make everyone happy. Whoever did come in front of him and asked for anything, He never said “no”. This thought made him very egoistic.
One day Maha Bali was sitting in a yajna. Then he saw a Kid coming from his front. Bali Raja did welcome that Brahmin and ask him, what can I do for you. That Brahmin was none other than an avatar of Vishnu ” Vahmana”. The young boy requested for that much space, as could be measured by three footsteps of his.
After hearing his request, Bali thought,” This kid asked me three footstep land. It’s not a big deal for me” Mahabali agreed with his request. Then Mahabali’s Guru Shukracharya said, ” Don’t do this. Don’t give him whatever he is asking from you. He is none other than an avatar of Vishnu.
Bali ignored Guru’s word and said,” What are you talking? The kid asked me a small thing I can give him and anyway, I haven’t said no to anyone to date. And you are asking me to say “No” to the kid. Sorry master I can’t do. Then Bali took a stoup and pouring water then Guru made himself a small bumblebee and go inside that stoup so Bali didn’t get the water.
Bali tried to pour water but it didn’t come out. Then Vamana understood the guru’s idea but here Vamana also not give up easily and said to Bali, May I help you? I think, in the nozzle of stoup some blockage. Let me clear this. Then took durva and put inside into the nozzle.
As soon as Vamana entered the durva into the vessel and it hit the guru’s eyes. Then, the guru hurt and came out from that vessel and the water started flowing easily.
Then Bali took some water in his hand and that water flowed on the ground. After that, Vamana becomes a Trivikrama and on his one foot, he measured the whole sky, second foot he measured the earth, and then third foot he didn’t get a place so he asked Bali, “Where should I keep my third foot”.
Then Bali realized his own ego and understood that there is only one giver in this whole world. So he offered his head joyfully for the third step in front of the Lord and asked him a blessing that I want to come once a year to see the people of my kingdom. Then the Lord put his foot on his head and sent him Paataal ( Hell ).
Therefore, In Kerala, we do celebrate Onam to welcome the Mahabali Raja and there is a cultural celebration of this festival in Kerala. During the festival, people pray wholeheartedly for the abundance and happiness that existed during the times of Maha Bali to manifest in the present times too.