Attam marks the beginning of Onam. From the very first day, people put pookkalam (floral rangoli) at their entrance way, using a number of flowers. It is a tradition and a part of the celebrations of Onam festival. In the Malayalee committees, pookkalam competitions are held. Various designs, both simple and intricate are made using flowers like marigold, roses, jasmine, etc. Small children take pleasure in gathering flowers from their premises. Apart from the use of flowers, people make use of colors to decorate their Pookkalam. Hectic preparations for the ten-day carnival start from Attam.
Kaikotti kali (also known as Thiruvathira kali) is the main dance of Onam. This is the traditional dance, truly native to Kerala. Kaikotti kali is performed by middle-aged women, who stand around deepam (traditional Kerala deep). The women are clad in set saree (traditional Kerala dress) and accessorized with gold jewelry. Eight to twelve women can perform the dance. Another dance form that is performed during the season is known as ‘Pulikali’ or ‘Kaduvakali’. In this dance, performers (mostly men) paint themselves like tigers in bright yellow, red and black colors and dance ferociously to the accompaniment of musical instruments such as ‘udukku’ and ‘thakil’.