Atham flag hoisted to mark start of Onam celebrations in Kerala

Low-key celebrations began in Kerala’s Tripunithura town on Thursday adhering to the COVID-19 protocols marking the start of the 10-day “Onam” festivities.

Tripunithura MLA K Babu hoisted the Atham flag on the “Atham” day in Tripunithura but there was no Athachamayam procession — the cultural carnival which used to provide one the rare opportunity to watch almost all the folk art forms of Kerala.

Last year also, there was no colourful rally on the streets of the town, the capital of the erstwhile Kingdom of Cochin, as people largely celebrated the Atham festival indoors in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the years 2018 and 2019, Athachamayam processions held in Tripunithura were dampened by devastating floods.

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