Kerala is a culturally diverse country with three major religions observed by the residents; Islam, Hinduism and Christianity. Such varied cultures open doors to several festivities that are celebrated together by people of different faiths. Here are a few Kerala festivals that you must experience at least once.
Adoor Gajamela Festival
This is a 10-day long celebration held at the Parthasarathy Temple in Adoor. Adoor Gajamela is a ritual where 9 elephants are decorated and paraded in the ceremonial attire while the devotees pray to the gods. The celebrations are huge and magnificent and receive thousands of spectators and devotees every year. If you are visiting Adoor for this festival, then be mindful of your kids and your valuables as the city gets incredibly crowded during these 10 days.
Haripad Temple Festival
Kerala festivals have fascinating rituals and traditions. The Haripad Temple Festival is one such where you will find yourself in awe of wonderful dance and dangerous stunt performances. Kavadiyattom is a ritualistic dance performed by devotees as they proceed to the temple to offer their prayers. Some perform a tantric dance after piercing their cheeks with long arrows. Though this festival is a one-day affair, it is celebrated with great enthusiasm.
The name of this Kerala festival literally means boiling over or spilling over. This is one of the most famous festivals of Kerala and is celebrated over a period of four days in the month of January. Pongal starts with worshipping Lord Indra and ends with visiting relatives and friends on the fourth day. The essence of Pongal celebrations lies in thanking deities, nature, plants, animals and your home. Join Keralites in celebrating the festival of gratitude this January in God’s own country.
Kodungallur Bharani Utsavam
This is yet another festival with strange rituals. Devotees run around the temple in a trance, hitting themselves with swords to proclaim their communion with the gods. This entire ritual is called Kaavu theendal and is held at the Kondugallur Bhagavati temple.
Onam is the main festival of Kerala. It is celebrated over a period of 10 days that start days before the actual festival day. It is one of the most famous festivals of Kerala and is celebrated in the monsoon season, around August. To witness the festivities in all their glory visit Kochi, Trivandrum, Thrissur and Kottayam. Locals celebrate Onam by decorating their corridors with flowers, festive feasts, dance and snake boat races. The Atham, which is the final day of festivities, starts with an early morning bath followed by prayers. At Thrikkakara temple in Kochi, celebrations commence on the Atham day and continue for 10 days with music and dance performances.
This 7-day long festival celebrated at the Sree Vishwanathaswamy Temple in Kalapathy is known as the chariot festival of Kerala. Massive chariots are taken around the town for seven days to worship the lord from this 700-year-old temple.
Paikuni is a summer festival celebrated in the month of March or April. The celebrations primarily comprise of prayers to Lord Padmanabha.
Summers are a wonderful time to catch up on one more of the famous festivals of Kerala. Vishu is yet another summer festival celebrated in Kerala to mark the commencement of a New Year. Vishu is celebrated in April or May and is an important Kerala festival, and unlike other festivals, is celebrated with sobriety. The Sadhya or traditional meal is the highlight.
The uniqueness of this festival is that it is celebrated by people of all castes and religions in Kerala. Though it is celebrated at the Thrissur temple, people of different faiths participate in this Kerala festival. The sight of elephant processions and drummers is breath-takingly spectacular. Celebrated in the month of April, witnessing this grand festival should be a must-do on your bucket list.
Twenty percent of the population in Kerala is Catholic. Christmas is one of the important festivals celebrated here with gusto. Kerala is home to beautiful cathedrals and churches where you can witness traditional Christmas celebrations.
Cities like Kochi, Trivandrum, Kovalam and Munnar host huge celebrations. Visit some popular churches in the state such as St. Mary Cathedral, St. Joseph’s Cathedral, St. Francis and St. George Ferona to celebrate Christmas the Kerala way. Even if you are not in any of these cities, take a stroll around wherever you are in Kerala to see beautifully designed cribs and treat yourself to some delicious Christmas cakes.
Ramzan is one of the biggest celebrations in Kerala. After a month of fasting and prayers, people visit their family and friends to exchange gifts and celebrate the month of Ramzan. With a grand feast that includes various festive delicacies, the celebrations are a dream experience for a foodie.
This is festival is celebrated in the renowned Sree Subramanya Swamy temple in Haripad which is home to the snake god, the famous Nagaraja. The temple has about 30,000 images of snake gods. This festival is celebrated in the month of September or October to worship and please the god of snakes.
In India, the snake is a sign of virality and change. Hence, snakes are considered a good omen by many Indian communities. The idols in the temple are taken out for religious processions during this festival and the devotees in the town offer rice flour mixed with milk, and a red drink made of turmeric and lime.
Now that you have the Kerala festival list, go on and prepare to join the festivities! SOTC has a bouquet of Kerala travel packages that will fulfil your itinerary any time during the year.