It is an Onam like never before in Kerala. With Covid-19 cases on the rise in the state and with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan calling for indoor celebrations, it is a muted affair this year. No public events are being organised.
The highlight of Atham celebrations, the first day of the 10-day festival, is the grand procession that is held to commemorate the royal custom of the erstwhile princely state of Kochi when it was customary for the King to travel with his entourage to the Thripunithura Fort, near here.
It is usually a big cultural display on Atham that is being marked on Saturday. The grand opening to the festivities takes place at the Thrikkakara Temple near Tripunithura every year.
But due to Covid-19, the only event that was marked was a flag-hoisting signalling the start of celebrations for the harvest festival.
The importance of Atham is that it is held 10 days before the most important Onam event- the 'Thiru Onam', which falls on August 31 this year.
According to legend, Kerala had its golden period during the reign of King Mahabali, and Onam marks the King's annual visit to see his subjects. Over the years, Onam has become one single festival celebrated by all sections of Kerala society.
Onam falls in the month of "Chingam" which is the first month of the Malayalam Calendar. Though in the initial days of Covid-19, when the world was hit badly, Kerala managed to hold on, but things are grim in the state now with daily number of new cases close to 2,000. The total number of cases in the state has crossed 53,000.