Colourful Festivals to Experience the Rich Tradition of Kerala – God’s Own Country

Kerala is a coastal state in the southern part of India featuring rich and distinctive traditions admired by all.

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One should definitely consider exploring this beautiful destination as it provides a relaxing atmosphere along with fun experiences.

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It makes all the more sense to visit Kerala when one of the festivals mentioned below is underway.

Onam

Onam is regarded as the state festival of Kerala. This ‘harvest festival’ is celebrated with joy and enthusiasm by people of diverse communities. As per a legend, Onam is meant to welcome the King Mahabali – a greatly respected emperor who was wise, judicious and big-hearted. It is commonly believed that during his reign, Kerala witnessed its golden era. Onam falls between August and September every year. Awe-inspiring carnivals of elephants, fireworks, boat races, music and the famous Kathakalli dance are traditionally associated with it.

Kerala Boat Festival

Celebrated from July to December annually, Kerala Boat Festival enhances the charm of water canals in ‘God’s Own Country’. The snake boats, worshipped like a deity, move in pairs to the rhythm of singing and shouting of spectators. The oarsmen sing traditional boat songs and put on white mundu and turbans. Generally, the men-folk of villages participate in it. Wearing shirts and footwear are not permitted. This event signifies the values of team spirit, integration and good relations of people.

Vishu

Vishu delivers the message of auspiciousness and prosperity. The arrival of this festival is marked by the extensive blossoming of Kanikonna (Laburnum) flower. Vishu celebrations started in Kerala during the reign of Sthanu Ravi, who ruled between 844AD and 855AD. Interestingly, this was the New Year festival of Kerala, long before the Kollavarsham calendar was put into effect. On the day of the Vishu, it is said that the Sun comes above the line of the equator.

Theyyam Festival

Often termed as the ‘Dance of Gods’, Theyyam Festival  is one of the most spectacular rituals in the worship of Goddess Kali – a Hindu deity representing Time, Change, Power and many other elements. This 800-year old celebration features dances and the chorus of musical instruments such as Chenda, Elathalam, Kurumkuzal and Veekkuchenda. Performers wear heavy make-up, huge masks and flamboyant costumes for dramatic appearance and impressive presence.

Attukal Pongala

Attukal Pongala is the most important festival of Attukal Bhagavathy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram. It is a ritualistic offering of a sweet dish comprising of rice porridge, sweet brown molasses, coconut gratings, nuts and raisins. Devotees offer this dish to pacify the presiding deity of the temple – the Goddess – widely known as Attukalamma. Only women are allowed to participate in it. This festival was included in the Guinness records for being the largest single gathering of women for a religious activity.