Welcoming King Mahabali for Onam

Its Onam, our biggest festival and I am more excited than P. I try to drum up excitement in him by telling stories of how I used to celebrate Onam when I was small plucking flowers to make the floral carpet, dancing kaikottikali, helping with the sadhya (feast),and wearing new clothes. P’s eyes sparkle a bit but then can’t fully encompass the festivity. 

So I decided to infuse some of the Onam spirit through art. Traditionally we mallus welcome our King Mahabali on Onam day by placing a clay version of his form in the centre and worshiping him. The tall pyramid form is King Mahabali and the two shorter ones symbolise his ministers.

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I shared the story with P and showed him some photos and he immediately said “But where is his face and his eyes? I want to make my own Mahabali”

That’s how we got started on our very own version of our King and his ministers. I made salt dough with regular flour and salt and P kneaded it into a soft dough.

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We then rolled out the head, big stomach, hands, legs and big mustache. Half way through I realised the salt content was high in the dough as it started slumping. So we had to place our figurines on a plate and set it to dry.

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I was skeptical as to what the final shape will be because of the moisture, but it turned out rather ok.

After drying in the sun for two days, we painted our Mahabali and ministers. P was really happy to paint the big mustache and tried to give himself one too.

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Today, on Onam day, we welcomed our king with the traditional pooja and flowers.

Truly a blessed and wonderful Onam

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