Kerala, known as â€˜Godâ€™s own countryâ€™ because of its enchanting natural beauty, attracts thousands of tourists every year. Some of the reasons for this are its backwaters, beaches, waterfalls, boat cruises, food, spices, ayurvedic health care, temples, monuments and colorful festivals. There are quite a lot of both cultural and religious festivals, which have been celebrated in Kerala for years from ancient days. Dance and music form an important part of all festivals, and the festivities and celebration continue the whole year through, thus attracting tourists and making Kerala a land of fairs and festivals.
photo credit: George Augustine
Talking of festivals, the most important festival of Kerala is Onam. Onam is the largest and the most popular festival celebrated by all the people living in Kerala, irrespective of religion. This long 10 days colorful festival falls between mid August and mid September which is the Malayalam month â€˜Chingamâ€™, the first month in the Malayalam calendar. The festival is celebrated all over the State with flower carpets, song, dance, new clothes and the traditional feast called the â€˜Onam Sadhyaâ€™. Though it is a Hindu festival, it is also celebrated by Christians and Muslims, both by the wealthy and poor as one festival. According to fables, Onam is celebrated to welcome the vanquished king â€˜Mahabaliâ€™, who it is believed will visit the people of Kerala every year during this period. In front of most of the houses, we find colorful â€˜Pookalamâ€™ or Floral Rangoli, for 10 days, and we can also find many pookalam competitions held in different places. In fact Pookalam competitions are conducted by Malayalee Associations all over the world. The traditional food â€˜Sadhyaâ€™ served on plantain leaf, and the mouth watering â€˜Payasamâ€™ are a real delicacy. Another attraction during Onam is the boat race events.
photo credit: challiyan
â€˜Vishuâ€™ is the next top festival of Kerala, celebrated by the Hindu religion in the month of May, which is the 1st day of the New Year according to the malayalam calendar. The day starts with the â€˜Kanikanalâ€™ where every one is brought blind-folded to see the â€˜Kaniâ€™ which consists of the idol or photo of Lord Krishna, and other items like fruits, rice, cons, coconuts and Kanikonna (the flower of Kerala) and the eldest member of the family give money to other members of the family and bless them with wealth and happiness. Crackers are burst in the early morning of this auspicious day.
photo credit: riasnelli
Trissur Pooram, another top festival of kerala, attracts thousand of people and tourists every year and is the most spectacular festival of Kerala, dating back to over 200 years. The firework display, panchavadhiyam or the rhythmic beating of drums, the procession of 50 or more elephants and the colorful umbrella changing ceremony, forms the important events of this festival.
Thiruvathira, a festival for the women folks, meant to bring marital happiness, is also an important festival in Kerala. This festival which is said to celebrate the death of cupid is celebrated between mid December and mid January. Early morning bath in the river, splashing water and singing songs, visting the Lord Shivaâ€™s temple and the â€˜Thiruvathirakaliâ€™, a dance by women, form the main events of this festival.
The sabarimala temple festival is also a very popular festival of Kerala. This festival is celbrated in the Ayyapan temple in Sabarimala, and the most important day of this festival is the â€˜Makara Jyothiâ€™ a light seen on the 14th of January.
photo credit: zoom_artbrush
Other festivals celebrated in Kerala are Christmas, Easter, Bakrid, Ramzan, Thrikarthika, Shivarathiri, Navarathiri, Ashtami Rohini, Vinayaka Chathurthi and Deepavali.
With these numerous festivals falling across the year, it is not surprising that tourists who visit Kerala, really enjoy their stay here and take back home wonderful memories.