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Festivals

Kerala festivals dates are decided in accordance with the Malayalam calendar and the local traditions and customs. Kerala is a land of colourful festivals, which have a long history and tradition behind them.

Onam
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Onam is the most important national festival of Kerala, falls in the month of Chingam (August-September). It is the harvest festival of Kerala. The 10-days festival is supposed to begin from the lunar asterism Atham and culminate in asterism Thiruvonam. There are several legends regarding its origin. The most popular legend is that Mahabali, the legendary king who ruled over Kerala in an age of plenty and was pushed down to the infernal regions by lord Vishnu in the form of Vamana, returns to see his people once a year.

Vishu

The Vishu festival falls on the first day of medam (April-may), the a stronomical New Year day and Hindus all over the state celebrate it. It is the common belief that the fortunes of the coming year depend on the first object they see on the Vishu day. So the important ceremony connected with Vishu is the kani kanal, which literary means the first sight.

Thrissur Pooram
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The most spectacular spectacle in the state. Sakthan Thampuran, the Maharaja of erstwhile Kochi state, introduced this festival. Celebrated in Medom (April-May) the festival parades the fulgent faces of Kerala culture. With every passing year Thrissur Pooram, the temple festival, attracts large masses of devotees and spectators.Of the groups displaying their artistic prowess in the Pooram, the prominent are Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi.

Thiruvathira
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Thiruvathira falls on the month of Dhanu (December January) and is a women's festival. On Thiruvathira morning, devotees throng Shiva temples for an early worship, which is reckoned as highly auspicious. It commemorates the death of Kamadeva, the cupid of Hindu mythology. Thiruvathira is the birthday of Lord Shiva. The festival has similarities to adra darshan celebrated in Tamil Nadu.

Navarathri
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The navarathri festival is called Desara in Karnataka and kali puja in Bengal is celebrated by the Hindus of Kerala .The festival is dedicated to Devi, the divine mother and is celebrated in the month of kanni (September- October). The Hindus of Kerala celebrate these days primarily as Saraswathi pooja. Saraswathi is worshipped as the goddess of learning. On the Durggashtami day the puja veppu ceremony is performed

Chittor Konganpada (War festival)
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Kerala, once a land of small kingdoms, had witnessed several pitched battles. Few in the state commemorate the war victories of their forefathers. However, people of Chittor in Palakkad district had assimilated a story of triumph into their cultural veins and in every February (on first Monday after the dark lunar in Kumbam, Malayalam calendar) they remember a war they had fought and won.

Sivarathri
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Mahasivarathri is celebrated by the Hindus in Kumbham (February-march). It is supposed to commemorate the day on which lord Siva consumed the deadly poison (kalakutaviaham) to save the world from destruction. The annual Sivarathri festival held on the banks of Periyar at Alwaye is one of the most colourful local festivals of Kerala. The pilgrims keep awake the whole night and return home next morning after performing Bali. Nellikkulangara Vallanghi Vela A festival unfurling the cultural faces of Palakkad villages, which are still under, Tamil sway. The festival at the Bhagavathi temple at Vallanghi in Chittur is in fact a competition between two villages-Vallangi and Nenmara- to propitiate the Goddess. Both villages, in their effort to excel the other leave no stone unturned.

Kalpathy Chariot Festival in Palakkad

Celebrated in the second week of every November. During the festival season, the Vishwanatha temple and the agraharas (traditional houses) of settler Tamil Brahmins at Kalpathy village will submerge in a sea of devotees. The religious fervour will reach its crescendo when the Brahmins carry the rathams to the temple premise, an age-old ritual that is gaining popularity with every passing year. Five major rathams (car, chariot) are being dragged in the flamboyant procession accompanied by caparisoned elephants and percussion.

Kettukazcha
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An important festivity associated with temple festivals in the Kollam and Alleppey districts is the Kettukazcha or Kutirakettu. The main feature of the festival is that people from different karas adjoining the temple concerned bring huge rathams or cars varying in height. The images of Hindu gods and goddesses and effigies of puranic figures like Bhima, Panchali, hanuman etc., are kept in the ratham. Oachira, near Kayamkulam, has emblazoned its name in the chronicle of war.

Vallom Kali


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Among the typical festivals of Kerala the vallomkali or boat regatta has a place of honour. The most important of the boat regattas are held during the Onam season in chingam (August-September) in the Alappuzha and Kottayam districts. Aranmula is the venue of the famous sake boat regatta held on the uttrattati day in connection with the Onam festival.

Aranmula Uthrittathi


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Jalolsavams evoke the waves of enthusiasm in the minds of Southern Keralites. Its history is flirting with, paddling with river gods. Down the years the boat race has accrued sporting value and tourism importance. For ages, Keralites have cherished a reverential attitude to rivers. It is the apt time for Keralites to hold the Jalotsavam (water-carnivals). Boat race is in a way a display of physical might of the people who forget their differences in partaking of this sport

Nilamperoor Padayani
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A festival that re flects the tradition and the culture of rural Kerala, Padayani is being held at Nilamperoor Bhagavathikkavu at Kuttanad in Alapuzha. Kolamkettu (making of effigies) and Kollamthullal (a ritual dance performed by carrying the effigies) are the main attractions of the festival. The chief Kolams displayed are of Shiva, Bhima and Ravana.

Sabarimali festivals-Vrishikam (November December)


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For centuries, Sabarimala in Pathanamthitta has been a major pilgrim centre attracting lakhs of devotees from all over India, more so from southern States. The presiding deity is Lord Ayyappa known as Dharma Sastha, a considered symbol of unity between Vaishnavites and Saivites. Darma Sastha is believed to have fulfilled his mission in life and rejoined his Supreme Self, enshrined at Sabarimala.

Other important Hindu festivals

Pooram festival- Meenum (March-April)
Thye pongal, mattu pongal-makaram (January February)
Ashtami at Vaikom-kumbham (February-March)

Christian Festivals

The common festivals of the Christians are the Christmas and the Easter.

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Christmas

Christmas, which falls on the 25th of December, commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ. It is jovial and spectacular celebration with many customs and conventions associated with it. The Christmas tree will be arranged and the appearance of Santa Claus (the Christmas father) and the distribution of presents follow this. There is a feast in every Christian home on Christmas day with meat as a special item. The Christmas cake has now become very popular even in villages. All the Keralites with out any difference celebrate Christmas.

Easter

Easter, though not a spectacular as Christmas, is the oldest Christian festival, as old as Christianity itself. It commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ and falls in the month of April. The holy week of Easter is preceded by 40 days of fast and prayer (lent). The week begins with Sunday and special prayers are offered during this week. The whole Easter celebration has its accent on spirituality rather than festivity.

Maramon convention

The largest Convention in Asia, Maramon is held on the sands of River Pampa, at Kozhancheri, near Tiruvalla in Pathanamthitta district. Every year tens of thousands of Christians attend the convention to hear the Word of God and seek His grace. Erudite orators from various countries address the 10-day long convention. Of the years Maramon has become a meeting place of culture and tradition. Maramon is also famous as the birthplace of Palakkunnath Abraham Maplah, a 19th century leader of the Syrian Church of Malabar.Preaching and Bible studies occupy the major part of the conference. Along with the religious discourse, special prayers for indisposed are also held.

Church festivals

St.George's church, Edathwa-27 April to 7th may. St.Sebastian's church, Arathungal- 20th January to 31st January. 
St George's church, Aruvithura-22nd to 24th April. St Thomas Shrine, Malayattur-last week of March or first week of April. 
St Mary's orthodox church, Manarcad - September 1st to 9th. Parumala, Mannar.

Muslim festivals

The major festivals observed by the Muslims of Kerala, as elsewhere in the world, are Bakrid (idul azha) and Ramzan (Idul fitr). The Kerala Muslims valiya perunnal and the latter Cheriya Perunnal call the former.

Bakrid

The Bakrid commemorates Ibrahim's (Abraham) 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 friends, relatives and the poor. The famous hajj is performed after the celebration of idulazha.

Idul Fitr

Idul Fitr is celebrated after the conclusion of the Ramzan fast when Muslims give up all kind of food and drink during the day and spend the major part of the night prayer. Idul-Fitr, of late known by the misnomer 'Ramadan' is one of the two festivals of Islam. Ramadan is the ninth month of the lunar year. Purification of the body and soul is the main aim of this observance. Recently in certain parts of Kerala new practices in connection with the celebration of this festival have been introduced. One of the novel features of the Id celebration is to invite members of the sister communities to participate in such functions.

Miladi Sharif

Miladi Sharif, celebrated on a large scale in April, commemorates the birth of the prophet. This celebration has acquired its present dimensions only in recent times. Previously the day was observed by the Muslims by reading what is commonly known as maulud which is a short treatise in Arabic celebrating the birth, life, work and sayings of the prophet or some saint.

Muharram

Muharram is another festival celebrated by Muslims on the 10th day of Muharram the forbidden month, which marks the beginning of the Hijra year.

 

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