Onam is the largest festival celebrated by the people of Kerala with great fervor since ancient times in honour of the homecoming of the noble and legendary King Mahabali. Onam is celebrated in the beginning of the Malayalam month of Chingam (August-September) with great excitement that lasts for 10 days. First day, Atham and tenth day, Thiruonam are most important of all. Elaborate feasts, folk songs, elegant dances, energetic games, elephants, boats and flowers all are a part of the harvest festival called Onam. This year Onam is celebrated on 16th September 2013 which is about a week away from today. At this wonderful time, we thought it would be fitting to share the beautiful story about the History of Kerala narrated by our Sri Maha Periva in His own sweet, simple and lucid style. The story will be posted in parts for members to enjoy it thoroughly. We are bringing this to you in English for the benefit of our non-Tamil speaking members. Here is the first part.

Source: Deivathin Kural/ Voice of God – Volume 5

Despite the Avedic environment that was surrounding the whole of India those days, there was one place where Vedic Anushtaanaas had not been given up completely and that place is Kerala. God had pre-decided that he would be born as a son to a very pious Brahmin couple in that Malayala Desam of Kerala, in a place known as Kaladi, as it may be known to most of you all. You may also know that the Avatara’s parents were Siva Guru and AryaambaaL.

The Malayala Desam is located on the west of the long series of hills known as Western Ghats. KeraLam is the Sanskrit name. ‘Kera’ is coconut and that entire area is full of coconut trees, hence the name KeraLam. One the one side are the hills – that is Malai and on the other side is ‘aazhi’ or ‘aazham’ so the Malayalam = Malai + Aazham!

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There is a story about how this narrow strip of land came into being.

Parasurama killed and vanquished 21 generations of Kshatriya kings and took their lands all over India, as you may have heard about. The whole world was virtually under his control. By that time he was seized by dispassion and regret! ‘Having taken birth as a Brahmin, it is sad that instead of doing things for the good of the society I have ended up killing so many people! OK, whatever has happened, I can’t even let the past be permitted to be by gone. How can I get away from the responsibility of having to rule all these lands? It is not correct to further get mired in the worldly affairs of administration and management!’

So, he donated all the lands to Kashyapa Maharishi. Why Kashyapa? Because all the animate life forms of this world came into being from him only. People born in Manu’s lineage are human beings aka Man or Manushya. Manu’s father was Vivasvan and his father was Kashyapa. Not only that, he was the forefather of Devas, Dhaityas, Dhanavas, Raakshasaas, Nagas and many others! Though there are many Prajapathis, only he is specially called the Kashyapa Prajapathi. So, ‘let him manage all these men and lands or do whatever’, was how Parasurama thought and donated it all to Kashyapa!

If you have a house and given it as a donation to somebody, can you continue staying there after that? That is how Parasurama thought about the situation. “Having given away this land as a gift, it is not correct for me to stay here anymore. Let me find a suitable place for me to stay and do Tapasya”, he thought.

Instinctively Kashyapa could read his mind. So, he further escalated the situation by saying, “Please do not think of claiming ownership on any part of the land that you have gifted away. Better go outside the outer borders of this land.” Parasurama started out. He went to the Western Ghats on the western borders of the whole of South India and reached the Sahayadri Mountain peak known nowadays as Aanaimalai or Elephant Top. Close to the western side of the mountains was the sea. Those days there was no Kerala or Malayala Desam, but only water of the seas.
Parasurama spoke to the Samudra Raja (the Lord of the Oceans), “All the lands that I had captured have been given away in charity, as I have endowed them to Kashyapa. So I cannot live anywhere on the existing lands. I cannot also die or go to the heavens as I am one of the Chiranjeevis! There is a command of God that I should do Tapasya forever for the sake of the well being of the whole world. Under the situation I seek your benign help for some spatial adjustment. By withdrawing yourself a little away from these mountains, can you kindly create some ground on the west of these ranges of mountains, for me to live?”

Samudra Raja who was ordered to control his waves when Rama had to construct the land bridge on the straits between India and the island of Lanka decided to help Parasurama. Knowing Parasurama to be a Brahmin very quick to take offence, he wished to give Parasurama as wide a margin as possible.

So, Samudra Raja told Parasurama, “Dear Sir! In your hands you hold that Parasu (Axe) which you got from doing Tapasya to Parameswara. Throw it as far as possible in the ocean and I shall recede that much away, up to the point beyond where the water drops are thrown up to by the impact of the axe and make all that land available to you.” Accordingly Parasurama threw the axe in to the ocean as far as possible. Water from the impact splashed in all directions many miles in the N-S direction and less in the E-W axis. All that area was exposed to the Sun and the sea withdrew.

That is the Malayala Desam or Kerala aka Parasurama Kshetra.

(to be continued...)