According to popular legend, Onam harvest festival is celebrated to welcome King Mahabali, whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the beginning of Chingam, the first month of the Hindu Malayalam calendar. At this time of year, after three months of heavy rains in India, the skies become clear and blue again, forests turn a lush deep green, lakes and rivers overflow, and lotuses and lilies are in full bloom. People put flower mats in front of their houses to welcome the King, reap the harvest, celebrate and rejoice. Activities during Onam are centered around worshipping, music, dancing, sports, boat races and above all else, eating good food. The most impressive part of the festival is the grand nine-course feast called Onasadya, prepared on Thiruvonam, consisting of up to 13 essential dishes and served on banana leaves. People sit on mats laid on the floor to partake of vast Onasadya meals.