Celebrations in Kerala as New Year dawns


Thiruvananthapuram : Keralites celebrated the state’s New Year Friday, with tens of thousands of Hindus thronging temples.
In schools and offices, people dressed in traditional attire participated in competitions to make floral designs on the ground to mark the beginning of the auspicious month of Chingam.

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Chingam is the first month of the Malayalam calendar. The harvest festival Onam falls in this month.

For Keralites, Chingam symbolises a new ray of hope in life after Karkidakam, a month of deprivation. The months prior to Chingam is the monsoon season during which life becomes miserable especially for the labour class.

“We really need a good year ahead because the last many months have been miserable on account of the viral fever that has affected close to 1.5 million Keralites. Then came the monsoon rains that have caused large-scale destruction of property,” said Kurian Jacob, a rubber farmer in Kottayam district.

Several businesses were inaugurated Friday across the state as the first day of Chingam is considered auspicious to begin new ventures.

The Congress party is making the most of the auspicious occasion. The top brass of the party’s state unit is in New Delhi to see Sonia Gandhi launching Jai Hind TV, a Congress supported Malayalam television channel.

The Left government marked Chingam 1 with the launch of the second edition of the People’s Plan. The first edition of the plan aimed at decentralisation and giving more powers to local bodies began in 1997.

The state government has announced a bonus pay packet for all government employees. Officials said salaries for August would be distributed on Aug 20, ahead of the Onam festival.

Chinagm 1 is also being celebrated as Karshaka Dinam (Farmers Day) during which the government announces awards for farmers. The government is likely to announce a slew of relief packages for farmers whose lost crops in the monsoon.