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Festivals of Kerala

Kerala is a diverse state in India. Kerala is a land where festivals never end. Various festivals are celebrated in Kerala round the year but the dates of these festivals change every year according to the indigenous Malayalam calendar. These festivals are an essential part of the state and observed with great enthusiasm and fun in which the people of all caste and religion participate. Today, these festivals are perhaps the only occasion when the classical, folk and ritual arts of the Kerala come alive and as well as represents the true tradition and culture. During

Kerala Festivals

the festivals, the people clean and decorate their  houses, enjoy get together with friends and relatives, exchange gifts, take part in rituals, processions and offer prayers. New attire, dance and music, all add to their joyful rhythm. It is also interesting to know that no celebration in Kerala is complete without an elephant pageant. Some of the major festivals which are celebrated in Kerala during the year are Onam, Thrissur Pooram, Thiruvathira, Vishu, Navarathri, Makaravillakku and Easter.

 

Makaravillakku Festival
Makaravillakku Festival is celebrated in the month of January in Sabarimala in Pathanamthitta. This place attracts thousands of devotees from all over India, mainly from south India. The presiding deity in Sabarimala is the lord Ayyappa also known as Dharma Sastha, who is considered as a symbol of unity between Vaishnavites and Saivites.

Kerala Village Fair

Gramam, the Kerala Village Fair is held in the month of January, near the shores of the famous Kovalam beach in Kerala. This fair is held for 10 days when the entire village is recreated. The central attraction of the fair is an enchanting recreation of a traditional family home known as Nalukettu. It is a quadrangular structure with a central open courtyard, corridors, massive pillars and windows, a typical architectural style of Kerala. In the fair ground there are stalls which sell hand crafted curios, bell metal mirrors, woven cloth, coir products, conch and coconut shell items. Spinning wheels, handlooms for making the Khadi cloth are also on display. In the evening various dances, music and martial arts are performed in the open air auditorium of the village.

Aluva Sivarathri Festival
The Aluva Sivarathri festival is one of the most colourful festival celebrated by the Hindus in the month of Kumbha (February - March) in Kerala. This festival is celebrated on the banks of the river Periyar at Aluva, about 16 kms. from Ernakulam. This festival is celebrated to commemorate the day on which Lord Siva consumed the deadly poison to save the world from destruction. On this day, the pilgrims awake the whole night, read the Puranas and the other holy texts and return home next morning after performing the Bali (ritual) at dawn. A ritual trade fair and various cultural programmes are also organized during the festival.

Aluva Sivarathri Festival, Kerala

Thrissur Pooram Festival
Thrissur Pooram is the most spectacular festival of Kerala celebrated at Thrissur in the month of Medom (April - May). This festival was introduced by Sakthan Thampuran, the Maharaja of erstwhile Kochi state. In the beginning of April, the people of Kerala began their search for the best elephants in the state. After their search is finished then they send a procession of decorated elephants to Thrissur to participate in the festival. The main feature of this festival is the procession of about 101 decorated elephants that assemble in the premises of the Vadakumnatha temple for the festival. The procession is accompanied by the Panchavadyam, where the five instruments create a spell binding crescendo of music and the decorated groups of elephants face each other. The festival ends with a spectacular display of fireworks.

 

Vishu Festival
The Vishu festival is celebrated on the first day of Medam (April-May). This festival is celebrated by the Hindus all over Kerala as the astronomical New Year day. It is the common belief that the fortunes of the coming year depend on the first object they see on the Vishu day. So the important ceremony connected with this festival is the Kani Kanal. This kani includes cadjan leaf book, gold ornaments, fresh and white cloth, some rice or paddy, bell metal mirror, flowers of the Konna tree, halved jack fruits, halved coconuts, yellow cucumbur, and two standing oil lamps emitting sparkling light. One of the major item of this festival is the Vishu Kaineettam, which means that the money is gifted to the children and to the poor people by the elder members of the family. On this day the people burst firecrackers and visit the temple.

Vishu Festival, Kerala

Easter Festival
Easter is celebrated in the month of April by the Christians all over the Kerala soon after the Good Friday. This festival is celebrated on the occasion of the rebirth of Christ, as the triumph of good over evil. This is the very oldest Christian festival, as old as Christianity itself. The festival is celebrated with lot of fun and frolic and the Christians offer special prayer services. The Holy week of Easter is preceded by 40 days of fasting and prayers. The Easter week is held for 10 days and during this week special prayers are offered in the Church.

 

Onam Festival
Onam is the most popular and annual harvest festival of Kerala. Onam is one of the most widely celerated festivals of Kerala. This festival is celebrated for almost ten days which start on Attam and ends on Thiruvonam. This festival is celebrated to welcome the spirit of the pious King Mahabali from eternal exile and to assure him that his people are happy and wish him well. Mahabali ever fond of his land and subjects was allowed to visit the land once a year on the day of Onam. On the second day of the festival, every home is lit bright and decorated in preparation for 

Onam Festival, Kerala

the visit of King Mahabali. Greetings are exchanged and lengths of auspicious saffron cloth are presented by friends to one another. People adorn their homes with colourful flower carpets, wear new clothes and prepare a sumptuous lunch for Mahabali. To mark the Onam festival, the Tourism Week is celebrated in the state especially in Trivandrum during which the streets in the city are illuminated and a unique package of traditional and cultural programmes are staged at the Kanakkunu Palace and other places. It culminates in a colorful carnival which the vast majority of people turn out. The major attraction of this festival is the Vallom Kali, the snake boat race and the cultural evenings with the classical and folk dance performances.

 

Thiruvathira Festival
The Thiruvathira festival is celebrated in Thiruvathira in the Dhanu month (December-January). This festival is celebrated by the women. On the early morning of Thiruvathira, the devotees visit the Shiva temple which is considered as highly auspicious. According to the legends, this festival is celebrated due to the death of Kamadeva, the mythological God of Love. According to some other people, Thiruvathira festival is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Shiva. The main aim of the festival is the harmony and happiness

Thiruvathira Festival, Kerala
of all. Thiruvathirkkali, the main dance form is also associated with this festival.
 

Navarathri Festival
The Navarathri festival is also one of the most important festival celebrated by the Hindus in Kerala. This festival is celebrated in the month of Kanni (September-October) and the people worship the goddess Saraswati, the goddess of learning. On the Durgashtami day, the Puja Veppu ceremony is performed. In the homes, the books and granthas are arranged tastefully in a decorated room and all sorts of study and work are given up. The whole Mahanavami day is devoted in the worshipping of goddess Saraswathi. The Vijaya Dasami day is observed as the day for the break up of the Puja and the initiation of children into the study of the alphabets and work and study are resumed.

Pongala Festival

The ten day Pongala festival is held at Attukal Bhagavathy temple, 2 kms. from Trivandrum. this festival attracts thousands of female devotees from many parts of the country. Mens are not allowed in the vicinity of the temple during the Pongala festival. Pongala is a kind of sweet porridge, considered to be the goddess favourite offering. It is cooked by each devotee in a clay pot on the open fire and the long line of women making the ritual offering extends up to East Fort and beyond.

Chandanakudam Mahotsavam

This colourful Islamic festival is celebrated to commemorate Bee Umma, a saintly lady whose tomb is in Beemapally near Trivandrum. The devotees bring money in pots decorated with flowers, incense sticks and sandalwood paste, as an offering to the deity during the festival.

 

Nishagandhi Dance and Music Festival
The Nishagandhi Dance and Music Festival of Indian classical dances and music is held at Nishagandhi Open Air Theatre, Kanakkunu Palace grounds, Trivandrum. Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Kathakali, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, Mohiniyattam, Odissi, specially choreographed ballet combining one or more of these classical dance forms, Classical music (Instrumental and vocal), Jugalbandi are performed in the evening.

Nishagandhi Dance and Music Festival, Kerala
 

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