Atham First Day of Onam Celebrations അത്തം ഓണ ദിനം

Onam starts with Atham day in the Malayalam month of Chingam. It is believed that King Mahabali starts his preparations to descend from heaven to Kerala on this day. The day also marks the start of festivities at Thrikkakara Temple (considered as the abode of Mahabali).

ഓണോത്സവ നാളുകള്‍ ചിങ്ങമാസത്തിലെ അത്തത്തില്‍ തുടങ്ങുന്നു.  അത്തപ്പൂക്കളം ആഘോഷത്തിന്റെ തുടക്കമാണ്. തൃപ്പൂണിത്തുറ കോട്ടയിലേക്കുള്ള കൊച്ചി രാജാവിന്റെ പരിവാരസമേതമുള്ള രാജയാത്രയുടെ സ്മരണയ്ക്കായുള്ള അത്തച്ചമയ ഘോഷയാത്ര പ്രൗഢമായ ഒരു ഓണക്കാഴ്ചയാണ്. ആനയെഴുന്നള്ളത്ത്, നാടന്‍ കലാരൂപങ്ങള്‍, പാട്ടും നൃത്തവും ഒക്കെച്ചേര്‍ന്ന് അത്തച്ചമയത്തെ ഒരു വലിയ കാഴ്ചാനുഭവമാക്കുന്നു.

The Onam celebrations across the state of Kerala and whereever Malayless are there in and around the world..  It starts off with a grand procession at Thrippunithura near Kochi called Athachamayam. In olden days, the Kochi Maharaja used to head a grand military procession in full ceremonial robes from his palace to the Thrikkakara Temple.

After independence, the public took over the function and celebrated as a major cultural procession which kicks off the official celebrations of Onam. Elephant processions, folk art presentations, music and dancing make Athachamyam a spectacular event which is now aggressively promoted as a tourist event.

The traditional ritual of laying Pookalam (floral carpet) starts on Atham day. The size of pookalam on this day is called as Athapoo and will small which eventually grew day after day. Only yellow flowers will be used on this day and the design will be simple. Also the statues of Mahabali and Vamanan will be installed on the entrance of each house on this day.

Major highlight of Atham is that people start making Pookalam from this day. Pookalam, also called Athapoo, is an intricate floral mat laid in the front courtyard by maidens of the house. This is done to welcome the holy spirit of legendary King Mahabali whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the time of Onam. In subsequent days more flowers and new designs are added to this pookalam. Selection of flower is also an important matter as a particular flower is selected for each day for a specific deity. Great deal of thought and creativity is employed in the making of Pookalam as girls vie with each other for the best design.

Legend of Onam

Mahabali was the grandson of Prahlada, son of Hiranyakashyapa who was slain by Vishnu in his Narasimha Avatara. Prahlad, despite being an Asura, had great faith in Vishnu. Mahabali learned the act of love and devotion to Lord Vishnu as a child, from Prahlada.

By traditional beliefs; Parasurama, an incarnation of Vishnu is credited to have founded Kerala. An alternate legend defines Onam as the day on which Parasurama recovered Kerala from the sea-bed by throwing his battle-axe. The axe traveled from Gokarnam in the North to Kanyakumari in the South. This legend is mentioned by Hermann Gundert in his Malayalam Dictionary.


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