Attractions of Kerala - God's Own Country

Wildlife of Kerala


Culture of Kerala


FESTIVALS OF KERALA


Kerala wakes up to some festivals or the other every day of the year. But the spring months bring along a special air of festivals. Over a hundred festivals are celebrated in Kerala across the Malayalam months of Kumbham (Aquarius), Meenam (Pisces) and Medam (Aries). Apart from world renowed event like the Thrissur Pooram, Kerala celebrates scores of festivals, which are equally important and exotic.


January

Kodikuttu Festival, Kanjiramattom Mosque, Ernakulam : (25 km from Ernakulam) the main attraction of this festival is the Chandanakuda Mahotsavam (a ritual where devotees circumambulate the mosque carrying sandalwood smeared pots on their heads) celebrated at night. The Kanjiramatrom mosque is said to have been erected over the mortal remains of Sheikh Faridduddin who spent his last days here. It is also said to be the place where the great Muslim saint Vavar attained eternal bliss.

Highlights: Procession featuring caparisoned elephants; Folk art performances such as Aravanamuttu, Chendamelam, Dobba kali, Oppana, Mappila pattu etc.

Feast, St. Andrews Forano Church, Arthungal, Alappuzha : Popularly known as Arthungal Perurinal the ceremony sees thousands of devotees from all religions. The Grand Feast of St. Sebastian is celebrated for ­10 days in the most devotional manner. The grand religious procession on the last day of the feast is welcomed by eagles circling in the sky a phenomenon ascribed to the divine power of the Saint.

Highlights : Urul Nercha; Offerings of gold and silver replicas of human bodies, limbs, bows and arrows; Grand religious procession

Thyppooya Mahotsavam, Sree Maheswara Temple, Koorkancheri. Thrissur : (2 km from Thrissur) A seven-day celebration, this festival is dedicated to Subrahmanya, son of Siva, the presiding deity of the temple. The highlight of Thypooya Mahotsavam is a spectacular kavadiyattam, a ritual dance offering carrying kavadis (bow shaped wooden structures decorated with tapestry, flowers and peacock feathers) on the shoulders.

Highlights: Folk art forms like Karakattam, Mayilattam etc.; Elephant pageants; Fireworks display.

Thyppooya Mahotsavam, Sree Subrahmanya Swamy Temple, Harippad, Alappuzha : (1 km from Harippad town) This festival sees thousands of devotees arriving at the temple with kavadis. They dance in abandon unfolding a magnificent spectacle. The Subrahmanya Swamy Temple is one of the oldest temples in Kerala and the idol here is said to be the biggest in the State.

February

Pattambi Nercha, Pattambi Mosque, Palakkad : (61 km from Palakkad) The Nercha festival is held in memory of Aloor Valiya Pookunjikoya Thangal, a Muslim saint of Malabar. The entire town is brilliantly illuminated during the festival.

Highlights: Pageant of 70 - 80 caparisoned tuskers, one of the largest in India; Musical ensembles like Panchavadyam, Tayambaka; Procession of colorful floats which concludes late at night on the banks of the Bharathapuzha; Folk art performances; Fireworks display.

Bharani Festival, Chettikulangara Bhagavathy Temple, Alappuzha : (5 km from Kayamkulam) Ritual arts such as Kuthiyottam, Kettukazhcha procession, cultural programmes, ritual folk art performances like Padayani, Kolkali and Ammankudam mark the bharani festival. All night Kathakali performance is also held as part of the cultural fare.

Annual festival, Parthasarathy Temple, Adoor, Pathanamthitta : This ten day festival features spectacular processions with gaily-caparisoned elephants, on the last two days. Art forms like Ottamthullal are staged on the last day. Ashtamirohini, the birthday of Sree Krishna, is also celebrated on a big scale in this temple dedicated to the Lord, also called Parthasarathy (the charioteer of Partha or Arjuna).

Pooram, Pariyanampena Temple, Kanukulam, Palakkad : (40 km from Palakkad) This annual festival lasts 7 days. On all days, Kalamezhuthupattu (a ritual where the Goddess image is made on the floor) ceremony is held in the temple at night. On the last day, a procession of 21 caparisoned elephants is held.

Highlights : Religious and folk arts like Kaalavela (bull motif spectacle), Kuthiravela (house motif spectacle), Thira and Pootham; Performances of Kathakali, Chakyarkoothu.

The temple also celebrates a 41 day long Kalamezhuthupattu during November - December. Deity of the temple: Goddess Bhagavathy

Panmana Pooram, Sree Subrahmanya Swamy Temple, Panmana, Kollam : (25 km from Kollam town)

Highlights: Folk art forms; Kuthiravela (horse motif spectacle); Cultural programmes.

Machattu Mamangam, Machattu Thiruvanikavu Temple, Thrissur : (3 km from Vadakancherry, Thrissur) During this festival, richly decorated Kuthirakolams (motifs of horses) are ceremoniously brought to the temple by the devotees as offering.

Highlights : Chendamelam; Pageantries; Cultural programmes. Deity of the temple: Goddess Bhagavathy

Theyyam festival, Kuttikkol Thampuratti Bhagavathy Temple. Kunikkol, Kasaragod

Pooram, Sree Chinakkathoor Bhagavathy Temple. Palappuram, Palakkad :

(5 km from Ottappalam, Palakkad) This one-day festival is celebrated with a grand procession of 33 caparisoned elephants and panchavadyam recitals. About 16 well-decorated Kuthiras (Horse motifs) and 8 Kaalas (bull motifs) are ceremoniously brought to the temple by devotees.

Highlights: Performance of art forms like Velattu, Thira, Theyyam, Pootham, Kaalavela, Kuthiravela, Aandi Vedan, Karivela, Kumbhamkali. Tholpavakoothu (shadow-puppet play) is conducted for 17 days, prior to the festival. Deity of the temple: Goddess Bhagavathy

Pongala Utsavam, Attukal Bhagavathy Temple, Thiruvananthapuram : This exclusive festival for women sees preparation of pongala (a kind of sweet porridge considered to be the Goddess' favorite offering) by thousands of devotees in the temple premises.

Highlights: Procession of the deity's idol; ceremonial rituals like Thalapoli; Kuthiyottam; Caparisoned elephants; Performances of classical, folk dance forms; Classical music recitals. Deity of the temple: Goddess Bhagavathy

Maramon Convention, Kozhencherry : (16 km east of Thiruvalla and 40 km from Kottayam) Held every year on the banks of River Pamba in Kozhencherry, this is Asia's largest gathering of Christians.

March

Uthralikavu Pooram, Sree Ruthira Mahakalikavu Temple, Vadakancherry, Thrissur : (At Parithipra, 2 km from Vadakancherry. on the way to Shoranur) This is one of the most important festivals in central Kerala. Colourful elephant processions accompanied by Panchavadyam and Pandimelam, during the day and night, mark the eight-day long celebrations.

Highlights: Ritual and folk art performances; all night pooram on the concluding day in the glow of temple torches called theevatti. Deity of the temple: Goddess Kali

Utsavam, KodimootiI Sree Bhagavathy Temple, Paripally, Kollam : (48 km north of Thiruvananthapuram) This festival is a 10-day event. During the concluding days, elephants are offered as nercha (ritual offering for prosperity) by individuals and institutions. Over 50 elephants participate in the ritual procession.

Highlights: Cultural programmes; Gajamela (elephant pageant) on the 10th day. Deity of the temple: Goddess Bhadrakali

Utsavam, Mahadeva Temple, Thirunakkara, Kottayam : (In the heart of Kottayam) The festival in this temple which has a beautiful collection of woodcarvings, murals and wall sculptures, is held for 10 days, of which the last two days arc most auspicious. On the ninth day is pallivetta, the holy hunting ceremony. The festival concludes with arattu procession.

Highlights : All-night kathakali performance on the third and fourth days; Pageant of seven caparisoned elephants; Folk arts like mayilattom, velakali etc. Deity of the temple: Lord Siva. The idol is believed to be swayambhoo (self-manifested), not installed.

Othara Padayani, Puthukulangara Devi Temple, Pathanamthitta : (7 km from Chengannur) This festival features Padayani mela, Kakarissi natakam, Pooppada thullal and Bhairavi kolam - the most imposing padayani spectacle with its enormous headgear made of 1001 painted areca nut fronds - on the last day. Deity of the temple: Goddess Bhadrakali in her most fierce form

Arattupuzha Pooram, Arattupuzha Temple, Thrissur : (14 km from Thrissur) This 7-day festival is the oldest and the most spectacular of poorams in Kerala. It is believed that on this day a hundred and one gods and goddesses of the neighboring village visited Sree Ayyappan, the presiding deity of the temple. 61 elephants feature in the procession held on the sixth day, which is considered most auspicious for worship. The festival concludes with the arattu (holy bath of the idol of the deity).

Highlights : Musical ensembles like panchavadyam, pancharimelam, and pandimelam

Utsavam, Poruvazhi Malanada Temple, Adoor : (12 km from Adoor) Colorful Kettukazhcha procession with kaala (1 bull motif), kuthira vela (horse motif) and decorated temple chariot mark this festival. The Malanada temple is perhaps the only one in India that is dedicated to Duryodhana, the antagonist in the epic Mahabharata.

Highlights: Folk art performances. Deity of the temple: Duryodhana.

Chandanakudam Mahotsavam, Beemapalli, Thiruvananthapuram : (5 km southwest of Thiruvananthapuram) This colorful festival is celebrated to commemorate the death anniversary of Beema Beevi, a saintly lady whose tomb lies at the mosque. Devotees bring money in pots smeared with sandalwood paste and decorated with flowers and incense sticks, during the festival.

April

Nenmara – Vallangi Vela, Palakkad: (48 km from Trichur) This festival is jointly celebrated by two villages, Nenmara and Vallangi.

Hightlights : Kodiyettam; Kalamezhuthupattu performance for 20 days; Assemblage of 30 elephants from the two villages at the Nallikulangara Bhagavathy Temple under lavishly decorated towering canopies; performance of art forms like Kanniyarkali, Panchavadyam, Pandimelam, Karivela, Andi Nayadi; Fireworks display. Deities of the temple: Nenmara-Goddess Bhagavathy; Vallangi-Lord Siva

Vishu : The New Year in Kerala is celebrated on the first day of the Malayalam month Medam - the day the sun crosses the equator. Vishnu is considered to be an auspicious day for new beginnings.

Highlights: Vishu kani - the auspicious object one first sees after waking up on the vishu day - which is arranged in an uruli (bell metal vessel) with raw rice, ripe cucumber, betel leaves, betel nuts, metal mirror, golden yellow konna flowers, palm leaves and often an idol of Sree Krishna; Vishu kaineettam: Handsel, usually a silver coin, given to all the younger members and dependents of the family by the elders; Sadya, the traditional feast of Kerala; Special devotional rites and prayers.

Aatuvela Mahotsavam, Elankavu Temple, Vadayar, Vaikom, Kottayam:

Highlight : The arrival of the temple model, which is almost the actual size, built on two huge artistically decorated canoes. Deity of the temple: Goddess Bhagavathy

Bharani Festival, Sree Kurumba Temple, Kodungalloor :(50 km from Kochi) This festival attracts the largest congregation of Velichappadus (oracles) from all over Kerala.

Highlights : Cultural programmes, Devotional rites. Deity of the temple: Goddess Bhagavathy.

Utsavam, Aravukadu Devi Temple, Punnapra, Alappuzha : (7 km south of Alappuzha)

Highlights : Cultural programmes, Kathakali, Fireworks display.

Malayatoor Perunnal, St. Thomas Church, Malayatoor, Emakulam : The most important place for the Christians of Kerala to celebrate Easter is this shrine. Pilgrims climb a nearly 2000 ft. high hill to reach the church, during the Perunnal. The ceremonies are held in the open air.

Kadamanitta Padayani, Kadamanitta Devi Temple, Pathanamrhitta : (6 km from Pathanamthitta) This ten-day festival features Padayani performances on the eighth day, as a ritual offering for Mother Goddess. Deity of the temple: Goddess Bhagavathy

Ashramam Pooram, Ashramam Sree Krishna Swamy Temple, Kollam : (21/2 km from Kollam town)

Highlights: Kathakali, Cultural programmes, Elephant procession, Fireworks.

Thrissur Pooram, Thekinkadu Maidanam, Thrissur : This is a grand pageant of 30 caparisoned elephants assembled in the precincts of the Vadakumnathan temple. The nearby Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi temples are also participants in the festival.

Highlights: Colorful rituals like Kudamattam; Spellbinding performances of Chendamelam, Panchavadyam; Spectacular fireworks display.

May

Annual Feast, St.George Church, Edathua, Alappuzha : (23 km from Alappuzha)Popularly known as Edathua Perunnal, this festival features a processin, in which the statue of St.George is brought outside and places on a specially decorated platform. The Edathua church is modeled on the medieval churched of Europe.

Hightlights : Kodiyettam on the 27 th of April; Ceremonial procession; Fireworks display.

July

Champakulam Boat Race : This is one of the most popular boat races of Kerala.

Highlights : Ceremonial water procession just before the race; Spectacular water floats; Decorated boats; Vanchipattu (folk song of the oarsmen).

August

Nehru Trophy Boat Race, Punnamadakayal, Alappuzha : This, the greatest event on the backwaters of Kerala, is held on the second Saturday of August every year. Magnificent snake boats compete for the prize trophy, which was instituted by Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India.

Highlights : Ceremonial water procession; Spectacular water floats; Decorated boats; Vanchipattu; Races of small country crafts; Chundanvallam race.

Athachamayam : Event to Mark the beginning of the Onam festival on the Atham day of the Malayalam month Chingam at Tripunithura, Kochi.

Highlights : Spectacular procession of caparisoned elephants; Colourful floats; Musical ensembles; Performance of art forms like Theyyam, Panchavadyam, ChendamelamPambamelam, Karakattam, Mayilattam, Kolkali, Ammankudam, Attakavadi, Pulikali, Kaduvakali, Parichamuttukali.

Onam : This is the harvest festival of Kerala, celebrations are held for ten days, beginning with the Atham day of the Malayalam month Chingam.

Highlights : Floral decorations; Elephant processions; Classical and folk dance performance; Classical and folk music recitals; Cultural pageants; Water carnivals.

Payippad Jalotsavam, Alappuzha : This three-day annual fiesta on the Payippad Lake, 35 km from Alappuzha, commemorates the installation of the deity at the Subramanya Swamy Temple, Harippad.

Highlights : Spectacular water pageants; Water floats; Decorated boats; Performance arts; Vanchipattu.

September

Aranmula Vallomkali, Pathanamthitta : This traditional boat race conducted at Sree Parthasarathy Temple, Aranmula in connection with the Onam celebrations in more of a water fiesta with a variety of decorated rowboats cheerfully going down the river to the accompaniment of vanchipattu (Boat Song). In each boat, besides the rowers, singers and rudders men are include. Each boat is decorated and the occupants carry ornamental umbrellas.

Annual feast, Manarkadu St, Mary’s Church, Kottayam :On the last three days of the festival, processions carrying golden crosses and thousands of colorful umbrellas are held.

Padayani festival, Neelamperoor, Kottayam

October

Koratty Murthy’s Feast, St.Mary’s Church, Koratty, Thrissur : (7 km to the south of Chalakudy) Devotees from far and wide visit the church on the day of the feast, the highlight of which is an agricultural fair. As Koratty is predominantly an agricultural village, the people here attach much importance to this festival.

November

Perunnal, Parumala Church, Thiruvalla, Pathanamthitta : Ceremonial procession of the holy cross, in which thousands of devotees from all over Kerala participate.

Mannarasala Aayilyam, Harippad, Alappuzha : This two day festival is celebrated with much religious fervor. An Ezhunnallathu (royal outing) ceremony is conducted on the second day, when the idol of temple deity, Nagaraja (Serpent God) is carried out by the temple priestess in a procession. Devotees carrying urulis (bell-metal vessel used for the rare offering, (Urulikamazhthal) and colorful parasols participate in it.

Kalpathy Ratholsavam, Palakkad : (3 km from Palakkad town)This is a spectacular festival where beautiful decorated temple chariots are drawn through the streets of thousands devotees. The festival lasts seven days, Kalpathy, an early Tamil Brahmin settlement is also known as Dakshin Kasi (the Varanasi of the south)

Highlights : Vedic recitals; Cultural programmes. Deity of the temple Lord Siva.

Feast of Christ, Madre Deus Church, Vettukad, Thiruvanathapuram : (14 km from Thiruvananthapuram) This church sees thousands of pilgrims during the festival.

Highlights : High mass; Vespers; a two hour long Holy Eucharistic procession and benediction. Nativity feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary is also celebrated with religious sprit.

Ashtami festival, Mahadeva temple, Vaikom : (40 km from Kochi) This is a thirteen-day festival, with the Ashtami festivities on the twelfth day.

Highlights : Ritual procession of the temple idols; All-night Kathakali performance; Classical music recital and Elephant procession. Deity of the temple: Lord Siva.

December

Theyyam festival, Perumthitta Tharawad, Kottamkuzhy, Kasargod.

Chirappu Mahotsavam, Mullakkal Devi Temple, Alappuzha :

Hightlights : Cultural programmes, Fireworks.

Chandanakudam, Puthur Muslim Juma - At, Changanasserry: Colorful folk art performances and elephant processions mark this feast. On the first afternoon, a grand procession with five gaily-caparisoned elephants takes place. In the morning of the second day, an elephant procession starts from the nearby mosque, passes through the entire town, and reaches Puthur mosque by night.

Theyyam Festival at Kanathoor Nalvar Bhoothasthanam, Kanathoor, Kasaragod

A variety of theyyams like Elayor theyyam, Chamundi theyyam, Panchoorla theyyam, Muthor theyyam etc. are presented during the festival. The most outstanding folk ritual art of Kerala, a theyyam represents a mythological, divine or heroic character.


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