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Atham Nakshatram in Chingam Month – Preparations for Onam Festival Begin in Kerala

There is a famous saying in Kerala – Atham Pathinu Ponnonam. In 2018, the date of Atham is August 15. It means the tenth day from Atham day is Thiru Onam – the day King Mahabali or Maveli visits his citizens. The famous Atha Pookalam (floral designs) made during Onam has ten rings. On the Atham day there is a single ring and as each day progress a ring is added to the Pookalam and finally there are ten rings on the Thiruonam day. Thiruonam in 2018 is on August 25.

Square clay pyramids are made on the Atham day and is kept outside the house and a small pookalam is made and it signifies the beginning of Onam festival. Atham is one among the 27 nakshatrams (Asterism) in Kerala astrological calendar. 

The ten stars (nakshatrams) that lead to Onam are - Atham, Chithira, Chodhi, Visakam, Anizham, Thriketa, Moolam, Pooradam, Uthradam, Thiruvonam. The days are meant for the preparation of Onam. Houses get cleaned, menu is decided, pickles are prepared, banana chips and other delicacies are prepared.

The famous Athachamayam procession takes places at Tripunithara near Kochi. The customary procession on Atham day heralds the arrival of Onam festival. The procession presents Kerala’s culture and its rural arts and is one of the much awaited annual cultural processions noted for caparisoned elephants, traditional art forms like Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, Kummatii Kali, Thiruvathirakali, Theyyam and Pulikali, musical ensembles like Chendamelam and Panchavadyam.