Kerala is a South Indian state that has embraced it traditions and cultures with grace. Not just the state boasts highest literacy rate compared to all other parts of the country; but it is equally rich in context of spirituality and ethnicity. Kerala’s rich culture is exhibited through Kathakali, which is a 500 year old dance form and is admired at a large scale around the world. There are thousands of other spectacular aspects of Kerala which fills the heart with enlightenment.
The state is always hopped in cloud nine and is spilling with ardor; but during its festivals Kerala reaches a whole new level of jollity. Listed below are the popular festivals in Kerala; have a look and be moved.
1. Onam Festival
This ten-day festival fills the state with stark exuberance, and is indeed the state festival of Kerala. It holds such a strong significance, that the whole state gets a four-day holiday during the festival. Onam is a famous festival of Kerala and falls during the Malyalam month of Chingam (Aug- Sep). It is celebrated to hail Vishnu avatar named Vamana. Also, a revered king, Mahabali, returned home during this time; and that’s what marks for celebration too.
The festival is commenced with an energized parade in the first day called Atham. The most famous parade takes place in Thrikkakara Temple, which is believed to be King Mahabali’s kingdom. And until the tenth and final day of the festival, people indulge in folk art (Pookkalam), Music, dance (like Thiruvathira Kali), special dishes, boat races and everything that keep the festive mood high up.
[ Know more the significance of Onam Festival in Kerala ]
2. Thrissur Pooram Festival
Thrissur Pooram Festival is a popular festival in the state of Kerala. This is a temple festival that flaunts the vibrant colors of the culture of Kerala. There are around 12 temples, which group together and celebrate this eight-day festival. Thrissur Pooram is indeed the conclusion of the whole festival and is celebrated with zeal, in the last day. The festival falls in the Malayalam month of Medam (Apr- May).
During these eight days, there are flag hoisting, fireworks, elephant decorations, parade, music and much more.
3. Kerala Boat Festival
Not only the state has a pristine coastline, but the legendary Kerala Backwater also makes the state glitter. Kerala backwater meanders through the state; it is fed by lakes, rivers and Arabian Sea. This proximity has led to introduction of new games and festivals.
Kerala Boat festival is an epitome of team spirit. There are different sizes of boat which are pushed forward by many people simultaneously. Not just the sight of the race, but also far beyond the venues of races, you can see the enthusiasm in the people to attend it and cheer.
Some of the most famous boat races are Champakulam Moolam, Nehru Trophy Boat Race in Alleppey,
Uthrattadi Vallom Kali Boat Race and Payippad Jalotsavam.
4. Attukal Pongala Festival
Attukal Pongala is a ten-day festival and takes place in February/March. During these ten days, an idol of the Goddess Attukal Devi is decorated and worshipped. This is a famous temple festival which takes place mainly in Trivandrum. And not just in Trivandrum, the faith and enthusiasm is sprung across the state equally.
There is a huge gathering in Attukal Devi Temple. This festival holds a record in the Guinness Book of World Records, for the largest annual gathering of women. There are people who attend the festival irrespective of their religion, cast or creed.
[ Read more about Attukal Pongala Festival in Kerala ]
5. Vishu Festival
Vishu in Kerala is known as Bisu in Karnataka. This South Indian festival falls in the month of April. A holy ritual of Vishukkani takes place in the morning of Vishu; this is to ensure that this day, the followers see things related to prosperity as soon as they wake up and wear new clothes. To signify prosperity metal mirror, rice, yellow flowers, betel leaves, fruits, vegetables, holy books, etc; are placed in the prayer hall. Devotees then visit temples; Sabarimala Ayyapan Temple and Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple are the most popular in Vishu. While, as the day goes on, people indulge in festive feasts and fireworks in the night.
6. Makaravilakku at Sabarimala Festival
Makaravilaku is a seven-day festival which commences on 14 January every year, in Sabarimala. The temple is devoted to Lord Ayyappa, also known as “Hari Hara Putra”. Here, Hari means Vishnu, Hara means Shiv and Putra means son. Lord Ayyappa unites people who follow Lord Shiv (Saivites) and Lord Vishnu (Vaishnites). A priest dances with a box of god’s jewelry, on his head. There are chants that are repeated to fill the aura and soul with sanctity. The festival is ended with “Guruthi” ceremony, an offering to the lord. After “Guruthi”, everyone empties the temple and no one stays back.
7. Christmas Festival
Christmas is a very popular festival and holds major significance, all around the world. Kerala is amongst the few states of India, where Christmas is celebrated at an extremely grand parameter. People exchange gifts, decorate Christmas trees and visit churches to offer sincere prayers during this time.
Christmas falls on 25th December every year and during the whole month, streets and houses of Kerala is filled with vivacity. Here, Christmas is not merely a holiday; people celebrate this day with devotion, by offering prayers and keeping Jesus Christ in their heart all year round.
8. Theyyam Festival
Theyyam is a form of worship in Kerala, mainly popular in its North Malabar, Kudagu and Kolathunadu regions. This is a cultural dance with about 400 types, in which a human disguises as deity and dances in a stone platform. The one who performs the dance gets embellished with bountiful folk art. The performer of the dance passes through three stages. One is being adorned by flower, colors, mask etc. Second is self torture and the third is, being able to perform the dance without getting off the rhythm.
Theyyam takes place usually in December, every year and its attendees attain a new level of contentment. This pageantry of ethnicity, penance and flow, has been an important facet of Kerala since ages.
[ Read more about Theyyam Festival in Kerala ]
Kerala has it all for you. The state not just offers above mentioned popular festivals to the visitors for an unforgettable trip, but also opens arms for its beautiful hill stations, tranquil beaches, backwaters, vibrant cultural, verdant wildlife sanctuaries that Kerala referred to as the “God’s Own Country”. Visit Kerala and lose yourself in the lap of nature and gather tons of memorable moments.
[ Want to explore God’s Own Country? Get exclusive offer on Kerala Tour Packages ]