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The Malayalam months are named after the Signs of the Zodiac. Thus Cingam (from Simham or Lion) is named after the constellation Leo and so on. The following are the months of the astronomical Malayalam calendar:
Comparative table showing corresponding months of other calendars
The days of the week in the Malayalam calendar are suffixed with Azhca (ആഴ്ച - week).
Comparative table showing corresponding weekdays
Like the months above, there are twenty seven stars starting from Aswati (Ashvinī in Sanskrit) and ending in Revatī. The 365 days of the year are divided into groups of fourteen days called Ñattuvela (ഞാറ്റുവേല), each one bearing the name of a star.
Vishu വിഷുcelebrated on the 1st of Medam, and Onam (ഓണം), celebrated on the star [tiruʋoːɳəm] in the month of Chingam, are two of the major festivals, the greatest of them being Onam (ഓണം). (See also, Kerala New Year.)
The Makaravilakku festival is celebrated in the Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala on the 1st day of month Makaram. This marks the grand finale of the two-month period to the Sabarimala pilgrimage. The 1st of Makaram marks the Winter Solstice (Uttarayanan) and the 1st of Karkadakam marks the summer solstice (Dakshinayanam) according to the Malayalam calendar. (According to the astronomical calendar the summer solstice is on June 21, and the winter solstice on December 21)
Formerly the New Year in the Malabar region was on the 1st of Kanni and that in the Travancore region was on the 1st of Chingam. When the Government of Kerala adopted Kolla Varsham as the regional calendar the 1st of Chingam was accepted as the Malayalam New Year. Medom is the first month according to the astronomical calendar; it is identical with Chaitram of the Saka Varsha. The first of these months are supposed to mark the vernal equinox. Astronomically the calendars need to be corrected to coincide with actual vernal equinox which falls on the 21st of March. (Chaitram 1 usually falls on March 20, and Medom 1 falls on April 14.)
Many events in Kerala are related to the dates in the Malayalam calendar.
The agricultural activities of Kerala are centred around the seasons. The southwest monsoon which starts around June 1 is known as Edavappathi, meaning mid-Edavam. The northeast monsoon which starts during mid October is called thulavarsham (rain in the month of thulam). The two harvests of paddy are called Kannikkoythu and Makarakkoythu (harvests in the months kanni and makaram) respectively.