Festivals of Kerala

Kerala, known as God’s own country is a traveler’s heaven. This spot not just offers a ton of vacationer locations to visit, but at the same time is known for its way of life and cooking. The assorted culture of Kerala is basically impacted by Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. Kerala is host to a plenty of conventional festivals that occur consistently. A wide number of districts and networks are associated with these festivals. The major festivals of Kerala are Onam, Vishu, Thiruvathira, Thrissur Pooram, Kerala Boat Festivals, Deepavali, Attukal Pongala, Theyyam Festiavl, Navarathri, Kalpathi Ratholsavam, Christmas, Milad-e-Sherif, etc.

The State joins to remember these extraordinary events together and the whole spot is canvassed in lights. There are gigantic parades and enormous presentations in the city with packs crowding to absorb the grandeur and wonder. Families gather from different corners of the world for these occasions and goliath feasts are held. Festivals are among the best occasions to visit the State as they include what it really intends to be a Keralite.

Kerala is most famously known for its festival of Onam, however it likewise has other significant festivals that we as a whole should think about and that is the thing that we are going to help you out with! Onam, Vishu, Thrissur Pooram, Thiruvathira, Theyyam Festival, Attukal Pongala, Christmas, Makaravilakku Festival, Arattu at Trivandrum, Ambalapuzha Arattu, Aranmula Uthrattathi, Adoor Gajamela are the absolute most mainstream festivals in Kerala.

Festivals in Kerala are commended with extraordinary energy and excitement, as they say a lot about the state’s set of experiences, culture and convictions. There are dance exhibitions, boat races, bejeweled elephants, beautiful rangolis and all that is wonderful. No big surprise individuals from around the world head straight up to this charming state with the backwater.

1. Onam


The festival celebrated to welcome the homecoming of their loved king Mahabali to Keralan’s home. As the people of Kerala believe that during the festival of Onam the legendary kind Mahabali visit their homes.

Onam festival has its own unique attractions that anyone can enjoy includes thrilling boat races, delicious Onam sadya, unique Kathakali dance performances, fireworks, traditional music all around, adorned Pookalam.

The important Keralite harvest festival is celebrated annually by Malayalees in Kerala, as well as those around the world. Celebrations take place for about 10 days and falls in the Malayalam calendar month of Chingam (which corresponds to August or September in the Gregorian calendar).

Celebrations have already begun, but this year the most significant part of the festival runs from September 10 to September 13. And although it is a Hindu festival, it’s taken on such cultural significance that people of all religions in Kerala now celebrate it to some extent.

Oonjal Attam. Oonjal Attam is another important part of Onam festivities. In the days to Thiru Onam, a swing(Oonjal) is slung on a high branch of a tree.

Pulikali: Onam is a carnival of folk dances, feasts, games for four to ten days. Pulikali is one of the folk dances performed on the 4th day of ONAM.

Onathallu, a martial art form of central Kerala, India, specifically on the banks of the River Nila, started as a form of entertainment for the upper castes, especially the rulers. Also known as kayyamkali, it means a martial exercise using hands. It is performed on festive occasions to show the strength of a group or village.

Kummattikali or Kummatti Kali is the famous colorful mask-dance of Kerala.

Onapottan is a folk character that appears during the Onam season in the North Malabar region of Kerala.

2. Vishu


On the day of Vishu, seeing the Vishukanni (offerings placed in prayers rooms at homes and and in front of deities in temples) as the first thing in the morning is believed to be the harbinger of the year’s prosperity and good luck. The offerings comprise flowers of golden shower (kani konna) tree, vegetables, fruits, traditional lamp, metal mirrors, coins, rice, holy text etc. placed inside a metal vessel called uruli. A lighted bell metal lamp called nilavilakku is also placed alongside. Giving of handsel (kaineettam) by an elderly person in the family to younger members is an integral part of the celebrations

3. Thrissur Pooram


Thrissur Pooram is the most revered temple festival of Kerala. Held annually at the famous Vadakkunnathan Temple in Thrissur, the vibrant Trissur Pooram festival attracts millions of tourists all across the world with its uniqueness and grandeur.
Thrissur Pooram is mainly celebrated to worship Lord Shiva who is the presiding deity of Vadakkunnathan Temple. Offering a splendid display of caparisoned elephants, dazzling parasols, percussion music and spectacular fireworks, Thrissur Pooram is a feast for the senses and is worth to be considered as the Mother of all Poorams.

4. Navarathri


Navarathri is an important festival of Hindus which is traditionally regarded as an auspicious time for starting new ventures. As the word Navarathri literally means “nine nights”, the festival is observed for nine days.During Navarathri Festival, Goddess Durga, Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswathi are worshipped as three different manifestations of Shakthi or Cosmic energy. The final three days of Navarathri, namely — Durgashtami, Mahanavmi and Vijayadashami are considered very sacred by the Hindus to worship Goddess Saraswathi — the Goddess of wisdom and learning.

5. Attukal Pongala


Known exclusively for women, the Attukal Pongala is a renowned festival of Kerala which noted for being the largest single gathering of women for a religious activity. And this unique festival has also received a Guinness World Record for the same. The festival starts from the Bharani day of the Malayalam month of Makaram-Kumbham and continues for ten days. The most remarkable feature of Attukal Pongala is that lakhs of women line up on either side of the roads around the Attukal Temple in Thiruvananthapuram district, making offerings of Pongala to appease the Goddess Attukalamma, regardless of the scorching sun.

6. Mannarasala Ayilyam Festival


The annual Mannarasala Ayilyam Festival is one of the most unique and awe-inspiring temple festivals of Kerala. It is held every year at the legendary Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja Temple in Haripad. It is believed that the first priestess of Mannarasala temple gave birth to a five-headed snake on the Ayilyam day, which inhabited in the ancestral house to safeguard the family. Hence, the festival is celebrated with great ardour on the Ayilyam asterism in the Malayalam month of Thulam. On the festival day, all the serpent idols in the grove and the Mannarasala Temple are taken in procession to the Illam (family connected with the temple) where the offerings of Nurum Palum (rice flour and milk), kuruthi (a red liquid made of turmeric and lime) and cooked rice are prepared.

7. Ambalapuzha Arattu


Ambalapuzha Sree Krishna Swamy Temple is a famous Lord Krishna temple situated 14 km South of Alappuzha District Head Quarters. The idol in this temple is ‘Parthasarthi’ with a whip in the right hand and a Shankhu (sacred conch) in the left. The ‘Ambalapuzha Palppayasam’ and ‘Ambalapuzha Velakali’ associated with this temple are world famous. The Temple was built by the erstwhile ruler of Chembakasserry Sree Pooradam Thirunal Devanarayanan Thampuran during 15th – 17th AD (790 M.E.). He offered his state to Sree Krishna and ruled the country as his regent after assuming the name of Deva Narayana.

8. Kottankulangara Chamayavilakku Festival

Every year, the Kottankulangara Devi Temple in Kollam’s Chavara village, hosts the Chamayavilakku Festival, which is one of the most fascinating temple festivals of India, celebrated during the month of March. As part of the ritual, men dress up as women and carry the divine Chamayavilakku or traditional lamp and walk around the temple to express their devotion for the presiding deity. It’s a truly fascinating experience to watch thousands of men adorned in silk sarees, jasmine garlands and shimmering jewellery as they walk around elegantly carrying the beautifully-lit lamps. The ritual begins in the evening and continues till dawn and is held on the last two days of the 19-day long festival. Devotees queue up in long lines from the temple gate to Kunjalummoodu holding the lamp to welcome the deity at midnight. The temple is elaborately decorated with lights, lamps and devotional music adds to the divine vibe of the place. During the festivities, the temple complex is lined with little stalls that offer wigs and other make-up accessories on hire for the participants. The famous temple festival draws devotees not only from different parts of Kerala but from all corners of the world. According to legend, a group of boys once tried to break a coconut by hitting it on a slab of stone and to everyone’s surprise, the stone slab started bleeding instantly. Astrologers suggested that the stone must have contained the divine energy of Vanadurga and instructed the locals to build a temple around the stone. Temple historians believe that the first prayer service of the temple was conducted by the boys dressed as women and that is how the unusual custom began

9. Theyyam Festivals

Every year during the dry season, between November and May, there are many festivals that are celebrated in India. Kerala, the gods own country is no exception. The festivity and celebrations commence from the end of the winter harvest season until the beginning of monsoon. Among many such festivals, one of the most fascinating is Theyyam. It is a popular dance ritual form of worship at Northern Malabar region of Kerala . This is a major event that offers a feast for culture lovers.

10. Vallam Kali (Boat Races Festival Kerala)


During the months of monsoon, Kerala comes to live with four main snake boat races, namely Nehru Trophy on Alleppey’s Punnamda Lake; Champakkulam Moolam along the river at Champakkulam (Changanassery); Payippad Jalotsavam on Payippad Lake and the Aranmula Boat Race along the Pampa River at Aranmula, near Chengannur. Apart from these there are 15 minor snake races that are held in Kerala. What makes these races different is the boat itself, which is known as Chundan Vallam and is 100 to 120 feet long. These boats appear as a snake due to their design and can only be oared by 100 rowers. The races take place in Each of the villages in the region own a snake boat and every year the villagers get together and race the boats along the lakes and rivers.

11. Kalpathi Ratholsavam



Kalpathy Chariot Festival, which is locally known as Kalpathy Ratholsavam is one of the famous festivals being celebrated in Kalapathi Village at Palakkad district in Kerala. This is a ten days festival being celebrated every year in the month of November. The venue of the Festival is Shri Viswanatha Swamy Temple in Kalpathy, where the deities are Lord Viswanatha (Shiva) & his consort Parvathi. And this is the Oldest Shiva temple in Malabar, built by the Raja of Palakkad on 1425 AD having similarities with the famous Kashi Viswanatha Temple in Varanasi in North India.

Kalpathy village is an early Tamil Brahmin settlement. Legend says that a Brahmin widow named Lakshmiammal went to Banaras (Kashi) and brought Lingam and installed in the present site on the southern bank of river Neela Bhagirathi. The location of the temple and steps leading to the river brings to the mind of a visitor the Banaras Temples on the bank of Ganges. Hence this temple is called “Kasiyil Pakuthi Kalpathy” (Half Banaras). Now this place is getting popular because of this annual chariot Festival. During this period the Kalpathi village will be crowded with thousands of devotees & visitors from different parts of the world. And the Chariot Festival is conducted based on vedic Tamil Brahmin Culture.

Kalpathi chariot Festival lasts for 10 days. It begins with Flag hoisting (Dwajarohanam) and ends with Rathasangamom. In the last day of the festival, decorated Temple chariots from different temples are pulled around by the devotes. In the first day, one chariot will be pulled by the devotees followed by two chariots on the second day and the last day of the festival three chariots.

12. Christmas

Christmas is the main festival for the Christian community in Kerala. But today, it has become like a national celebration as most Non-Christian people also eagerly wait for Christmas to arrive. It is celebrated on 25th December to commemorate the birth of Saint Jesus. Popular customs include decorating Christmas trees and cribs, exchanging gifts wrapped in colourful papers, visiting relatives and friends, making delicious cakes, hanging Christmas stars and singing hymns and carols in churches and cathedrals.

13. Miladi Sherif

Mohammed, the Prophet of Islam, was born on 20th April, 571 CE Muslims all over the world celebrate the birth of the Prophet in various ways. In Kerala the practice of large scale celebration of the Prophet’s birthday is of recent origin. Reading what is commonly known as the “Maulod” which is a short biography of the Prophet written both in verse and prose in the Arabic language has been the common ritual of the day. Of late in Kerala, there has developed another practice connected with the Miladi Sharif. Colorful processions are taken out through the towns reciting Thakbir. These processions finally converge on some central place where public meetings are held. Night lectures are organized during the first twelve days of the month when Muslim Ulemas through their discourses enlighten the people on various aspects of the life of the Prophet.

14. Maha Shivarathri


The Maha Shivarathri is essentially a religious festival unlike Onam and Thiruvathira. The word means `the great night of Siva. According to the Sivapurana, it falls on the Krishna Chathurdasi day, which is on the fourteenth day during the waning of the moon in the month of megha, though in some years it may occur in phalguna also. In Kerala the Malayalam month of kumbham is noted for the Sivarathri festival which falls in February-March. There is no other place in Kerala where Sivarathiri is celebrated on such a grand scale as in Aluva. The celebration of Sivarathri in Aluva is as famous as the festivals like Ashtami at Vaikom, Pooram at Thrissur etc. The celebration of Sivarathri at the Siva temple in Aluva on the banks of river Periyar is attended with great devotion. In many respects the Sivarathri festival in Kerala can be considered a miniature Ardha Kumbha Mela held at Thriveni, the confluence of the holy rivers Ganga, Yamuna and the invisible Saraswathi.

15. Thiruvathira Festival

The Thiruvathira festival falls on the asterism Thiruvathira in the Malayalam month of Dhanu (December-January) and this is also the longest night in a year. Literary and historical evidence in the form of stone inscriptions state that the festival has been celebrated on this day for more than 1500 years. The origin of the festival is shrouded in obscurity. The people celebrate this festival upon age-old tradition and they do it with great joy and respect for the past. The Ardra Darshan celebrated in Tamil Nadu corresponds to Thiruvathira of Kerala. It is considered to be high auspicious to worship Siva and the devotees go to the temple before sunrise for ‘darshan’. Apart from the worship in the Siva temple, there is very little celebration in the houses. Tradition has it that Thiruvathira festival is celebrated in commemoration of the death of Kamadeva, the mythological God of love. According to another version Thiruvathira is the birth day of Lord Siva.

16. Deepavali

Deepavali, the festival of lights is held throughout India. In Kerala, this is celebrated only by Hindus. It falls on the preceding day of the new moon in the Malayalam month of thulam (October-November). It is celebrated in commemoration of the destruction of the demon called Narakasura by Lord Krishna. As Lord Krishna killed Narakasura on the Chaturdasi day (the fourteenth lunar day) it is also known as Narakachaturdasi. Before sunrise, all in the house have their oil bath and put on new cloths. Sweets are then served followed by bursting of crackers. The word ‘Deepavali’ means an array of lights. Light has always been the symbol of the highest ideals of man, and the festival of light is celebrated all over the world in different forms.

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