The spirit of celebration is very much a part of the ethos of the state of Kerala andthere are so many festivals and celebrations taking place in the state, cutting across all sections of society. Tourists and travellers to Kerala will find it a delightful experience to be part of the crowd during these happy occasions. Here are some of the most famous festivals of Kerala that you can plan your travel around.
New Year for the state of Kerala, the celebration of Vishu happens with no less aplomb and show. The most significant ritual observed during Vishu is the Kani Kanal (meaning ‘first sight’), as it is believed that the fortunes of the upcoming year depend on what object is seen first on the morning of Vishu.
Another practice is Vishu Kaineettam, where money is gifted to the younger members of each family. The entire family joins in for a midday feast (Sadya) and then ends the day’s celebration with a dazzling display of fireworks. Visiting Kerala during Vishu is like touching the cultural fabric of this beautiful state.
Thrissur Pooram is one of the most spectacular festivals in the world. It is also the biggest and most colourful temple festival in Kerala. The word Pooram means a group or a meeting but there is no match for it in terms of visual splendour, the grand assembly of caparisoned elephants, amazing pyrotechnic displays and spell-binding ensembles of percussion instruments.
Thousands of enthusiastic crowd irrespective of caste, colour or religion converge at Thrissur to take part in the festivities. It is believed that the gods and goddesses meet each other annually on this occasion. This festival is a spectacular event in Kerala and many of those travelling to the state plan their trip around.
The Chettikulangara Temple near Kayamkulam celebrates the Bharani Utsavam in the Malayalam month of Kumbham (February-March). The highlight of this temple festival is Kuthiyottam and Kettukazhcha.
As part of the Kuthiyottam ceremony, young boys are required to fast, and are taken in a ceremonial procession to the temple to the tune of music, the beating of drums and ornamental umbrellas. For Kettukazhcha, local residents worship decorated effigies of chariots, horses and deities and take part in a ceremonial procession.
The Vaikathashtami Festival is dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva and is held during November or December at the Vaikom Mahadeva Temple. This annual celebration held at the temple is a 12 day long affair, held during the dark lunar fortnight in the Malayalam month of Vrischikam.
The Ashtami falls on the last day, and at dusk, deities from neighbouring temples are brought in a ceremonial procession. All the deities are worshipped and offered presents, and then an Arattu is performed in a pond close to the temple. The festival also features various classical dances and cultural celebrations.