KOCHI: Sunday saw the temple town of Tripunithura on its toes. Bustling markets, residents in ‘kasavu’ sarees off to temples and the rest thronging markets. A day before the ‘Athachamayam’ which commences the 10-day celebration of Onam in the state, Tripuithura is all set to continue the tradition started by the erstwhile Cochin royal family.
Replete with a cultural procession and programmes encompassing traditional art forms, ‘Atham’ is celebrated with much gaiety in Tripunithura.
“The tradition began in the 20th century, perhaps around 1947. The procession was famous for its amalgamation of various communities, caste and creed no bar. In the erstwhile Kingdom of Cochin, the procession started from the Hill Palace to the Thrikkakara Vamana Moorthy Temple. After which, the king would distribute gifts to people at the Kalikotta Palace. In 1949, the royal Atham celebrations ended. The state government restarted it in 1961. In 1978, Tripunithura Municipality was formed and in 1980, the Atham celebrations were taken over by the municipality,” said Chandrika Devi, chairperson, Tripunithura Municipality.
Currently, the Atham procession is flagged off at Atham Nagar, at the Government Boys High School Ground, Tripunithura. The procession covers the East Fort Gate, North Fort Gate, Statue Junction and then return to the school ground. Culture Minister A K Balan will inaugurate the proceedings at the Boys’ High School at 9 am on Monday. The Atham flag was received by the chairperson from S Anujan Thampuran, representative of the erstwhile royal family, on the Hill Palace premises, on Sunday. “Earlier, there would be exclusive representatives of various communities - Nettoor Thangal representing the Muslims, Karingachira Kathanar for the Christians and Chembil Arayanmar for the fisherfolk. However, such a custom is no longer followed. Yet, residents and people from afar participate in the festivities,” said Chandrika.
Cultural competitions began in July, stage shows commenced on August 26 and will continue until Uthradam in the Tripunithura Koothambalam. Festivities at Atham Nagar will continue till September 15.
Last year, the Atham celebrations were inaugurated albeit the procession didn’t take place due to the pouring rain.
“This time, regardless of the rain, we will continue to celebrate. We’ve worked hard to set up our stalls,” said Usman Moosa, a Kaloor resident, who has been a regular at the Atham celebrations in Tripunithura.