Kerala is popularly known as God’s own country. It has a large number of temples. It also hosts a number of Temple festivals which are celebrated all over Kerala. Apart from this, it is a tourist’s paradise. This place not only offers a hub for tourist destinations, but it is also rich in its culture and cuisine. The diverse culture of Kerala influences Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. There are several festivals in Kerala and each festival has its own colours and unique in its own way. These festivals give you a glimpse of the rich heritage of the state. Let us discuss each of them one by one.
1. Onam Festival
It is celebrated in between the month of August and September all over Kerala. Onam is the most important and popular festival in Kerala celebrated with great fun and enthusiasm when the crops are harvested. In Kerala, Onam is celebrated at a grand scale just like Diwali in north India. Onam is celebrated by everybody in the state irrespective of their community, caste, creed, and class. It is also the festival in Kerala that marks the return of King Mahabali, who sacrificed his life for his people.
Houses, offices, and shops are decorated with beautiful flowers arrangement called Pookalam. The ten days of celebration include cultural activities like Atthachamayam, Pulikali, boat race, Kummati kali, and tug of war. The most important part of the celebration is the Sadya, the lunch on Thiru Onam. The most important are 26 dishes are prepared and served on a plantain leaf. It is quite interesting to attend Onam Sadya which is a great way to experience the culture of the state through its food. Many hotels in Kerala and outside the state host Onam feast.
2. Thrissur Pooram Festival
Thrissur Pooram is celebrated in the month of Medam at Vadakkunnathan temple in Thrissur. It is one of the biggest temple festivals in Kerala. It is celebrated on Poornima and Thrissur Pooram is the mother of all poorams of Kerala. It has been celebrated for over 200 years in honor of Shiva. This holy festival shows us the rich musical heritage of the state. The celebration starts from traditional puja that lasts for almost 36 hours.
The most attractive sight is the passing of over 50 caparisoned elephants through the streets accompanied by drums. These beautifully clad elephants stand in two rows facing each other at the temple. Thousands of people gathered there to see the enthralling sight of the elephants and the thrilling sounds of around 80 drums playing competitively along with Nadaswaram. The celebration ends with a display of colorful umbrellas.
3. Vishu Festival
It is one of the most important festivals of the state which marks the beginning of New Year. The festival is celebrated in the month of April and the most important part of the festival is the Vishukani. It Is also celebrated in the neighboring areas like Mangalore, Tulunadu, and Udupi. Vishu is celebrated with fireworks and light which includes the bursting of firecrackers. It is said that on that day Krishna killed the demon Narakasur. On this day people start their day with Vishukani. Vishu Kani is an arrangement of auspicious items including gold, yellow cucumber, white cloth, coconut, mirror, a lamp, and an image or idol of Krishna with a gold coin in the center. It is believed that celebrating this Vishukani brings luck and prosperity for the coming years.
4. Kerala Boat Festival
Nehru Boat Race celebrated on the second Saturday of August and other boat races are in between the month of July and September when the backwaters are swelled by the rains. It is held on Punnamda Lake, near Alappuzha. The backwaters of Kerala are not only a major tourist attraction but also the venue for thrilling boat races. Kerala hosts many boat races but the most popular races are the Nehru Trophy Boat Race and Champakulam Moolam Boat Race. An interesting part of the race is the boat song which is called Vanchipattu. Vanchipattu is famous poetry in the Malayalam language and it is recited during the boat race.
5. Theyyam Festival
It is celebrated from 14th February to 20th February 2021. Theyyam is one of the most popular and most awaited festivals celebrated in Kerala. It is an 800-year-old festival with flaunts of folk dances and art. There are more than 400 varieties of Theyyam performances from which you can pick the best ones. They are Kari Chamundi, Raktha Chamundi, Muchilottu Bhagavathi, and Wayanad Kulaven. The mythological acts are the highlights of this festival. People dress up and paint the performer who belongs to an upper caste. They also adorn him with beautiful flowers, masks, and colors. The performer then dances to the rhythms and entertains the people.
6. Attukal Pongala Festival
It is celebrated for 10 days. It falls in between the month of February and March. It is another popular festival celebrated in Kerala. It brings together women of all caste, religion, and colour and celebrates it at the Attukal Devi Temple in Kerala. In the Guinness Book of World Records, this festival holds a record for hosting the largest gathering of women for religious purposes. The most interesting part is that the number of ladies who are attending the festival increases every year dramatically. On this occasion, women wear their best dresses and gather to decorate deities with colourful bangles. It continued with folk musical concerts, bhajans, plays, and parades. The deity is offered Ponkala which is prepared rice, jaggery, and other ingredients.
7. Makaravilakku Festival
It is for a whole week from 30th December 2020 to 20th January 2021. It is a famous traditional festival that is celebrated on the famous Hindu festival i.e. Makar Sankranti. On this holy day, people went to temples and worshipped Lord Ayyappa. A program is organized at the Ayyappa Temple located in Sabarimala on that day. The beautiful part is that when you are in Sannidhanam during the celebrations you can see the Divya Jyothi from 9 different spots. You should also take part in the Thiruvabharanam procession in which you see the Lord’s accessories transferring to Sabarimala from the Old Palace.
8. Thiruvathira Festival
Thiruvathira is popularly known as Andhra Darisanam. It is celebrated in Kerala and Tamil Nadu with great fun and enthusiasm. It is believed that on this day Goddess Parvati met Lord Shiva and Lord Shiva accepted her as his partner. This festival is very important for unmarried women. On this day they keep fast and pray to God for getting good husbands. Temples are decorated on this day and you can enjoy the rituals and traditions on Thiruvathira. You can also enjoy the Thiruvathirakali dance performed by women and listen to folk songs. These songs are dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati by the local people.
9. The Arattu Of Lord Padmanabhan Festival
The Arattu of Lord Padmanabhan is celebrated every year and people from all over the state attend this festival. It is celebrated at Padmanabhaswamy Temple of Trivandrum. The word Arattu means holy bath and on this festival, the priest of the temple takes a bath in the river while holding the idol of Lord Padmanabhan. Every year it is organized by the Travancore royal family and it is one of the best festivals in Kerala. On this occasion, the Padmanabhaswamy temple is decorated with flowers and lightning. The Travancore royal family and other locals perform rituals and the priest takes a holy bath and it ends.
10. Ambalapuzha Arattu Festival
Ambalapuzha Arattu is one of the famous festivals in Kerala. It is celebrated for 10 days in the month of March at Shree Krishnaswamy Temple in Alappuzha. The temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna. On the last day of this festival, the idol of Lord Krishna is taken to the banks of the river by the priest for the holy bath. On this day the temple is beautifully decorated with flowers and lights. The locals and the priests organized a special prayer ceremony on that day. All the people attend the prayer ceremony and walk with the priest to the banks of the river to enjoy all the rituals.