Bali Padyami, or Bali Pratipada, is observed after Deepavali in Karnataka and
Maharashtra. In 2012, the date of Balipadyami is November 14. Balipadyami celebrates the reign of Asura King Balindra, popularly known as Mahabali, who was killed by Vamana, an incarnation of Vishnu. Legend has it that due to a boon given by Lord Vishnu, King Balindra gets an opportunity to rule to entire universe for one day and this day is Bali Padyami.
Legend has it that King Bali attained immense popularity due to his good governance. He attained near invincibility with the help of his Guru Shukracharya. As a result, Indra soon lost heaven to
Bali. And Balindra got the coveted title of Chakravarthi – emperor. Bali decided to conduct Ashvamedha Yajna, to show his strength.
Indra sought the help of Lord Vishnu to regain his lost heaven.
Lord Vishnu attended the Yajna, as Vamana, a dwarf. Vamana asked for three steps of land and it was immediately granted by King Bali. Soon, the short Vamana grew in size – so huge that it was impossible to describe in words.
With his first step, Vamana covered all of Earth. His second step covered all of the Sky. There was no place for the third step and King Bali offered his head. Vamana sent
Bali to Patalaloka or Underworld.
King Bali was a popular and great ruler; therefore he was made the emperor of underworld by Vamana. He was also given the boon that he will be allowed to rule the entire universe for one day, which is the Balipadyami day.
The popular Onam festival in Kerala (August - September) also has the same legend. But there Mahabali visits his erstwhile subjects on the Thiruonam day.
On Balipadyami day, people remember King Bali and pray for the return of prosperity that existed during his rule. Exchanging gifts on this day is a major highlight.