Atham (Athachamyam) – Thiruvonam -Ten days of Onam

Atham (Athachamyam) – Thiruvonam -Ten days of Onam

Onam Celebration continues for ten days in the state of Kerala. Carnival of Onam encompasses a spectrum of fascinating activities. Traditional people of Kerala even go out of their way to celebrate the festival exhaustive of stipulated customs and traditions in full grandiose.

Nevertheless, Onam is still celebrated with gaiety and joy on all the ten days of the festivities. There are set rituals for each day and the traditional people of Kerala dutifully follow them. The mood of the people is upbeat all through the carnival and the high-spirited people of Kerala are ever ready to indulge in merriment.


Of all these days the first day Atham and the tenth day Thiruvonam are the most significant ones. Ninth day Uthradam is also considered to be extremely important from the point of view of celebrations in several parts of Kerala.

Besides the various rituals that are meant to be completed in individual households, there are a lot of customary activities that are organised at the level of society and city all over the state.

Read More – Onam – Pre-eminent festival in Kerala

Atham (Athachamyam) – Thiruvonam

Atham (Athachamyam) – First Day

There is also a set breakfast for Atham consisting of steamed bananas (Pazham Puzhungiyath)and fried pappadam (pappad). This breakfast remains the same till the tenth and the last day of Thiruvonam. A swing decked with flowers is also slung from a high branch and youngsters take great delight in swinging and singing Oonjal (swing) songs Oonjal pattukal.


Athapookalam and Athachamyam

A 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. Selection of flower is also an important matter as a particular flower is selected for each day for a specific deity. A great deal of thought and creativity is employed in the making of Pookalam as girls vie with each other for the best design.

Onam Pookkalam – Traditional way of making Atha pookalam

A grand procession called Athachamyam is also carried on the day of Atham to mark the beginning of the grand carnival of Onam. The procession is carried out to commemorate the royal custom of the erstwhile state of Kochi when it was customary for the King to travel with his entire entourage to the Tripunithura Fort. Even in the absence of King today, the custom still retains its majestic charm. Elephant processions, folk art presentations, music and dancing make Athachamyam a spectacular event. The procession of Athachamyam is of marked importance at Thripunithura, Kochi.

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Second Day – Chithira

There are not any marked rituals for the day but people offer their prayers to evoke divine blessings.People add to the size of the Pookalam with different flowers.

Chothi Third Day

The third day of the ten-day-long carnival of Onam is called Chothi or Chodi.Well, there are no set rituals for Chothi. Specific flowers are added to Pookalam on this day too. It may be noted that different types of flowers are added to Pookalam on each day as each flower is devoted to a particular deity. As a result, Pookalam increases in diameter on this day and gets a refreshing new design.

Thiuvonam kali

Visakam – Day Four

Women who have to prepare the elaborate meal of Onasadya on Thiruvonam, gets engaged in the prior preparations on Visakam. Making of various types of pickles and pappadams (papad) besides various other things begins now.

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Anizham – Fifth Day

Anizham is the fifth day of Onam celebrations. The high point of the day is the grand Snake Boat Race event called Vallamkali, which takes place on the fifth day of the Onam.  Boats are oared on the rhythm of vanchipattu or boat songs.

Thriketa – Sixth Day –  Moolam – Seventh Day

There are no set rituals marked for the day of Triketta. It marks the time for homecoming for people staying away from their families for various reasons

Moolam is the seventh day of the festival of Onam which continues for ten days. With just two days left for the festival now, enthusiasm grips the state of Kerala.

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Pooradam Eighth Day

Devotees create clay idols in the shape of small pyramids called onathappan. Massive house cleaning operation starts as people ensure that everything looks neat and tidy when the Onathappan arrives.

 Uthradam – Ninth Day

Utradam or Uthradam is the ninth and the penultimate day of the festival of Onam.Some people also call Utradam as the first Onam and the next day Thiru Onam as the second Onam.

Uthradapachil -ഓണം പൊടിപൊടിക്കാനായി ഉത്രാടദിനത്തില്‍ അവസാന തയ്യാറെടുപ്പ്. നാടും നഗരവും ഉത്രാടപ്പാച്ചിലിലായിരിക്കും. ഉത്രാടനാളില്‍ ഓണവിപണിയും സജീവമാകും. തെരുവോരക്കച്ചവടകേന്ദ്രങ്ങളിലും ഓണം മേളകളിലുമെല്ലാം തിരക്കോടുതിരക്കായിരിക്കും.

Thiruvonam – The Big Day

Activities begin early in the morning. People clean their house, take early bath, wear new clothes and participate in special prayers organised in individual homes and then in local temples. Later a very special and the biggest of all days Pookalam is prepared to welcome Maveli. Clay mounds in the shape of pyramids representing Lord Vishnu and Mahabali are prepared and placed in front of the Pookalam.

In the noon the grand feast of Onam called Onasadya is prepared. The strictly vegetarian meal consists of 11 – 13 mandatory dishes and is served on a banana leaf. The eldest member of the family presents gifts and new clothes to the family members.

Various cultural events are organised all over the state to mark the day. Dances, games, shows and get together are the other highlights of the day.

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