'Athachamayam' celebrations herald start of 10-day Onam festivities in Kerala

12:20 PM Aug 20, 2023 | Team Udayavani |

A colourful rally accompanied by floats and folk-dance performances marked the Athachamayam’ celebrations, heralding the start of the 10-day ‘Onam’ festivities in Kerala, in Tripunithura near here on Sunday.


The beginning of the festivities was officially inaugurated by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan here and the event was attended by many political leaders as well as superstar Mammootty.

After lighting a lamp, Vijayan said the secular nature of the celebrations should be upheld even in the present modern times as it was done in the past when the erstwhile Royal Kingdom of Kochi held the festivities.

He said that even back then Karingachira Kathanar, who represented the Christian community, Nettoor Thangal — representing the Muslim community — and Chembil Arayan, representing the fisher folk, along with the royal families were part of the Athachamayam celebrations.

He said that the light and message of secularism, brotherhood and peace projected by Tripunithura, once the capital of the erstwhile Royal Kingdom of Kochi, needs to spread across the country to counter the darkness of communalism, communal riots and racism.


Vijayan also said that the secular nature of Onam showed unity of minds beyond caste, creed and religion.

Thousands, across all age groups and from all walks of life, turned up to watch the colourful procession which was lent a rhythmic touch by the ‘chendamelam’ and ‘panchavadyam’ performances by percussionists.

Various folk art forms like Theyyam, Kolkali, Mayilattam, Ammankudam, Pulikkali, and classical art forms like Kathakali added colour to the Athachamayam procession.

Many of those who lined up along the procession route to witness the festivities told media that rain, natural disasters and the pandemic had played spoilsport over the last few years and the rally could not be held properly.

”This year it is on a Sunday, so we can come and watch it in person instead of TV. Let’s hope it does not rain,” they said.

In the days of kings, the Maharaja of Kochi used to participate in the procession from Tripunithura to the Vamanamoorthy temple at Thrikkakara.

According to legends, the festival is celebrated to welcome King Mahabali, whose spirit is believed to visit Kerala at the time of Onam to see his subjects.


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