The Gods must be crazy

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It had never happened before that the gods were worried about a demon king for all the wrong reasons.

Instead of staying true to the demonic tradition of cruelty and violence, Mahabali was just, pious, gentle, kind and loving. No one in his kingdom wanted for anything. He had won the hearts and minds of his subjects with no use of force.

Scared that his growing popularity might prove a threat to their reign, the gods approached Lord Vishnu and beseeched him to "restore order." Vishnu, able to see what mortals and even the gods could not, agreed to intervene in the form of the Vamana Avatar, a dwarf brahmin mendicant.

The tiny mendicant approached Mahabali renowned for being generous to a fault with a request for three paces of land. As soon as Mahabali granted his request, Vamana assumed cosmic proportions and measured out the entire earth with one step and the heavens with the next. When he asked the king where he could place his third step, the King humbly offered his head, and was pushed to the netherworld but not before Lord Vishnu granted him the boon that he could return every year for a day to ensure his subjects were still happy.

Tickets to the event, costing VND300,000 per adult, include raffle ticket numbers, free flow of drinks and a sumptuous buffet.

Onam 2010 @ Saigon will be held on Sunday, September 5, at 116-118, Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, District 3, HCMC.

Mahabali's return to earth is celebrated as the Onam festival in the Indian state of Kerala famously known as God's Own Country. Keralites make sure that every Onam, King Mahabali sees them at their happiest, living in harmony without any discrimination on the basis of caste, creed or class.

The Keralite diaspora in Ho Chi Minh City has been celebrating Onam since 1998 with rituals like the "pookkalam," a flower carpet arrangement, the "kaikottikkali" dance and the "onasadhya", an elaborate feast. They have been joined in their celebrations by increasing numbers of the Indian, Vietnamese and expatriate community.

This year, the Onam celebrations in HCMC will feature Anand Narayan, an upcoming playback singer, television compere and entertainer from Kerala who will perform songs in several languages.

A massive flower carpet arrangement, a collection of Indian numbers performed by Vietnamese danseuses, raffle draws with many prizes including air-tickets to India and stays at prominent resorts in Vietnam, a traditional attire competition and a Kerala feast prepared by a specially invited chef are also part of the celebrations.

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