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Kerala's Onam preparations starts with Atham


12 August, Atham, Thiruvonam in Ten Days

The picture was taken from Pexels.

Onam is the grandiose cultural celebration in Kerala honoured every year in the month of Chingam (Shravana) according to the vernacular calendar.  It marks the arrival of the spring season, following the South-Western Monsoon season that commences in June.  Historically, it marks the harvest season, the preparations and the celebrations lasting half a month, which falls towards the end of August or September.  

Kerala is the smallest state in India in terms of population and land area and the premium state. Along the shore of the Arabian sea, it borders Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, a traditional centre of business and trade and agricultural prominence when Indigenous people made the land use.   Harvesting, marketing, trade, and festivities were the highlight of the socio-economic life of the people then. 

Onam is a reminder of those times.  There is a myth associated with that to mystify every piece of historical phases and events.  Such myths are often symbolic too. Mahabali represents the old grandiose, and Vamana, a dwarf Brahmin, pushed him down to the underworld granting him an opportunity to make an annual visit to his countrymen--magnanimous, indeed.  

The dates Mahabali visits his people and of the preparations are all calendared using the star positions.  Thiruvonam is the big day, culminating at the end of the ten-day preparations starting with the Atham star. Thiru- Onam is the primary Onam day, extending to four more days, lasting fifteen days.  

Preparations and celebrations are marked by various formalities.  The thoughts of which enrich my mind with fond memories.  About which, I will write another time. 

This post is about Atham; today is Atham, 12 August.  The key to festivities and welcome is flowers.  Spring is the season of flowers.  When Kerala was a land of greeneries and plenty of open areas, flowers broke out from every spot.  Children got busy in the early morning collected them. Females set them in the front courtyard of their homes in colourful patterns and designs.  That is called the Atham flower arrangement.

This year, with the Covid restrictions, Onam festivities, preparations are kept under check the same as the last year.  
Photo by Anjali Paarol from Pexels

In the shortage of yard grown flowers, people in Kerala have grown dependent on the imported flowers available in the flower shops and the markets.   

This post 9 is part of the BlogChatter Half Marathon.


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