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Festivals of Kerala


Kerala festivals Kerala is a land of colourful festivals, which have a long history and tradition behind them. Kerala's innumerable festivals however stand out because of their uniqueness.

Onam Festival
Onam is the most famous festival of Kerala. All Malayali's irrespective of religion celebrates it. It falls in the Malayalam month of Chingam (Aug-Sept). It is the harvest festival of Kerala. Legend states that Onam is celebrated as the home coming of Mahabali, the king who ruled over Kerala in the age of plenty and was pushed down to the infernal regions (Patala) by Lord Vishnu in the form of Vamana.

Onam is celebrated as a national festival of Kerala. It synchronizes with the tourist week celebration, which starts formally on the day of Atham asterism. The image of Thrikkakara Appan (Vishnu in the form of Vamana) is installed in every Hindu home during the Onam season. Children go around collecting flowers and decorate them in the front portion of the house in various designs and patterns. The most important days of the Onam festival are Uthradom and Thiruvonam days. On the latter, a grand feast is held in every home. Onam also provides an occasion for family get-together among the Keralites. It's a perfect example for the religious harmony of the state.


Vishu: The first month of Malayalam Calendar is Medam (April-May) and the first day of Medam is celebrated as Vishu, the New Year day. Begin an auspicious day; it is a common belief that the fortune of the coming year depends on the first day. So the first day begins with ceremony of Kani Kanal, which literally means first sight. At the dawn, the Malayali's begin the first day of the Year by waking up in front of Kani. The Kani includes gold ornament, white cloth, a measure of rice or paddy, bell metal mirror, flowers of the Konna tree (Cussia fistula), halved jack fruits, halved coconuts, yellow cucumber, and two standing oil lamps emitting sparkling light their eyes. Another interesting features of this day are Kaayi neetal where the elder members in the family gift money to the younger ones.

Mahasivarathri: Hindus celebrate Mahasivarathri, all over the world in Kumbam (Feb-March). It commemorates the day on which Lord Shiva consumed the deadly poison (Kalakuda visham) to save the world from destruction. The offering of special pooja and abhishekhams, and the presentation of cultural programmes in all the Shiva temples celebrate the day. The annual Sivarathri festival held on the banks of River Periyar at Alwaye, is one of the most spectacular local festivals of Kerala, which attracts thousands of pilgrims from all over the state. It has been compared to the Kumbamela at Prayag.

Navarathri: Literally Navarathri means Nine nights. This festival is celebrated for Navagraha Naayagi (Nine nymphs). It is called by different names in different parts of India. In Karnataka, it is called Dasara, in Bengal - Kali Pooja and in this state it is known as Saraswathy Pooja. Saraswathy is known as goddess of Knowledge. On this day all tools and books are kept for Pooja. Children who are to begin their schooling are made to write the first alphabet in rice with their finger.

Asthami Rohini: The birthday of Lord Krishna is celebrated with great importance on this day. It is held in the month of Chingam (Aug- Sept). Devotees visit the Krishna temples where special Pooja and cultural programmes are held.

Thrikarthiaka: This festival is celebrated in the month of Vrischikam (Nov -Dec). Display of light in the evening is a unique part of the festival.

Thiruvathira: Thiruvathira falls on the month of Dhanu (December-January) and is a women's festival. It commemorates the death of Kamadeva, the cupid of Hindu mythology. The aim of the celebration is conjugal harmony and happiness. The dance form Thiruvathirkkali is associated with this celebration.

Christmas: All Christians celebrate Christmas as the birthday of Jesus Christ on 25th Dec. Holy Mass is held in all the churches in the state. Carol singing, setting up of Christmas tree in all churches and homes, exchanges of cards and receiving gifts from Santa Claus are all integral part of the festivities associated with the birth of Jesus Christ. There is a feast in every Christian home with meat as a special item, and the celebrations of Christmas leave good memories in every heart.

Easter: This is another important festival of Christians, which commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter usually falls in March-April, after 40 days lent of fast and penance. Christians go for mid-night mass, as a memory of the resurrection of Jesus, 2000 years ago

Bakrid: The Bakrid commemorates Ibrahim's (Abhraham) offering of his only son as a sacrifice in obedience to God's command. The Muslims enjoy hearty feasts on Bakrid day. The rich may sacrifice a he goat or a bullock and distribute it among Frieds, relatives and the poor. The famous Haj is performed after the celebration of Idul Azha.

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