No boat race, no Athachamayam: Kerala is celebrating an indoor Onam amid pandemic

Yearly, from Atham (on August 22 this yr) to Thiruvonam (on August 31), God’s personal nation Kerala wears a festive cheer because it celebrates the ten days of Onam, the harvest competition.

Nonetheless, the Covid-19 pandemic has taken the sheen off the festivities this yr. With Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan calling for indoor celebrations, main occasions associated to Onam have been cancelled, as individuals let custom take a backseat over security.

That is how the key Onam occasions have fared amid the pandemic.

Thrikkakara Temple competition

The principle temple competition for Onam is held on the Vamana Moorthy temple in Thrikkakara, among the many few temples devoted to Lord Vamana. Thrikkakara is taken into account the abode of Mahabali.

Legend has it that the temple is on the web site the place king Mahabali was despatched to Patala (the underworld) by Lord Vamana, along with his foot. In reality, the place derives its title from this legend — “Thiru-Kaal-Kara” means ‘the place of the holy foot’.

Vamana Moorthy temple. Legend has it that the temple is on the web site the place king Mahabali was despatched to Patala (the underworld) by Lord Vamana, along with his foot. (Image credit score:

From the Athachamayam, artwork performances, Onam feast (Sadhya) to the ultimate procession (Pakalpooram on day 9), the traditions and festivities right here final 10 days.

Nonetheless, with the continued pandemic, besides the temple traditions, all main celebrations, reminiscent of processions and the enduring Onam Sadhya (feast), have been known as off.

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“Although the temple is open for the general public, all main celebrations have been known as off and solely the temple traditions, just like the ‘Chaarthu’( idol ornament), are being carried out,” Narayanan Namboothiri, a former priest on the temple, informed

Namboothiri additionally stated that as per the Centre’s guideline, solely 5 individuals shall be allowed contained in the temple at a time, in view of the COVID-19 scenario.


Athachamayam, which can also be part of the Thrikkakara temple competition, is a cultural fiesta that marks the start of the 10-day festivities of Onam.

A standard Athachamayam procession is held at Tripunithura, a area within the metropolis of Kochi, on the day of Atham as per the Malayalam calendar.

From Pulikkali, Theyyam, Mayilattom and classical artwork types like Kathakali, a typical Athachamayam is a show of just about all people artwork types of Kerala. Floats, people music and dance add color to the procession.

This yr, the procession was cancelled because of the worsening COVID-19 scenario within the state.

Boat Races

A ship race, historically often known as Vallam Kali in Malayalam, is a type of canoe racing integral to Onam celebrations. The race, which can also be a serious vacationer attraction, contains a number of forms of paddle boats or snake boats (Chundan vallam), about 30 to 35 meters in size.

Nehru Trophy boat race

Among the many hottest such races is the Nehru Trophy boat race, held within the Punnamada Lake in Alappuzha, Kerala. The race is extremely aggressive, with varied classes.  This yr was to be its 68th version.

In view of the pandemic, the race, earlier scheduled for the second Saturday of August, has been postponed indefinitely.

Aranmula Uthrattathi boat race

Aranmula Uthrattathi boat race in Pathanamthitta is one other well-known boat racing occasion.

In response to folklore, a religious Brahmin had promised to provide all the necessities for the Tiruvona Sadya (Onam feast) on the Parthasarathy temple in Aranmula. As the necessities had been being transported to the temple, the boat (Thiruvona Thoni) carrying it was attacked by bandits. Nonetheless, native ‘snake boats’ from the encompassing areas got here to the rescue and helped fulfil the Brahmin’s promise, thus marking the genesis of the boat race within the space.

Aranmula Uthrattathi boat race close to Pathanamthitta district’s Aranmula. (Image credit score: )

Aranmula boat race, in contrast to the Nehru Trophy boat race, is much less aggressive and is extra about traditions. This yr, it was speculated to be held on September 4.

Palliyoda Seva Sangam(PSS), a 13-member government committee which takes selections relating to the race and the Valla Sadhya (feast) that follows, had put ahead a proposal in search of permission to conduct the occasion adhering to social distancing norms.

Krishna Kumar Vanmazhy, President of PSS confirmed to the, that the Uthrattathi boat race stays cancelled in view of the social distancing norms, as usually a complete of 52 snake boats compete in opposition to one another for the trophy.

A single palliyodam (massive snake boat), which has been determined by the committee, will perform a ceremonial procession, for the sake of temple traditions,” Vanmazhy added.

Indicating additional adjustments, Vanmazhy stated that the variety of snake boats going as escorts for the Thiruvona Thoni may even be diminished.

“Solely a single palliyodam will go as Akambadi (Escort) for the Thiruvona Thoni and the escort will solely carry 24 individuals as in opposition to a 110,” he stated.

The Ashtami Rohini Valla Sadhya, which takes place on the day of Rohini as per the Malayalam calendar, will solely serve the oarsmen of lone palliyodam.

A typical Valla Sadhya will see round 50,000 individuals from throughout the state, other than all of the oarsmen of the snake boats.

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