The rich and vibrant culture of Kerala can be seen through its unique and colorful Fairs and Festivals. Kerala Fairs and Festivals are exclusive and only one of its kind and is a perfect blend of pleasure and happiness. The simplicity and the intrinsic religious approach of the natives of Kerala depicts in the mode of celebration of the Fairs and Festivals. Below are the most popular Fairs and Festivals of Kerala:
Onam is the biggest festival and is regarded as a state festival of Kerala. Onam is celebrated during the Malayali month of Chingam (between August and September according to English Calendar). Onam is a harvest festival and is celebrated for over 10 days with complete passion and enthusiasm all over Kerala. Onam showcases the best on the Kerala culture and traditions. According to legend, the festival is celebrated in the honor of King Mahabali whose spirit is believed to visit Kerala during these 10 days. Snake Boat racing, decoration of Pookalam, Ambrosial Onasadya and Kaikottikali Dance are some of the main features of Onam.
Thiruvathira is a sacred and religious festival which is primarily the festival for women is celebrated during the asterism (Thiruvathira Nakshatram day according to Malayalam month of Dhanu Masam), in between December and January as per English Calendar. The Ladies on this festival worship Lord Shiva and urge for a blessed marriage life. The famous Thiruvathirakkali dance attractively performed by women is another feature of Thiruvathira.
Vishu is celebrated in Kerala as the beginning of the astrological New Year and the celebrations expresses a significance of prosperity and auspiciousness. A festival is celebrated with full of zeal and passion on the first day of Malayalam month of Medam. Vishu is celebrated with multicolored rituals and customs with a belief that good things of the first day of the year would continue to happen for the entire year.
Thrissur Pooram is regarded as the Mother of all Poorams and is celebrated in the Malayalam month of Medam (April-May as per English Calendar). Pooram is the day when the moon rises with the Pooram star. It is an impressive assembly of Gods and Goddesses in and around Thrissur. The Gods and Goddesses visit at the Vadakumnathan Temple premises on decorated elephants accompanied by group of dancers and artists of Chenda melam and pancha vadyam. Thrissur Pooram is not a simple temple festival but it is the festival of festivals of Kerala. It is one of the most spectacular festivals and is celebrated for over 36 hours. The splendid culture and art of Kerala can be experienced during Thrissur Pooram.
Theyyam is one of the ways of worshipping God where men dons the guise of God and propitiates the Gods through dance. Theyyam is practiced for a prosperous and blessed life and it is perhaps amongst the most significant ritual art in North Kerala (Malabar). Theyyam is a multihued ritual dance that features the significance of the worship of heroes and ancestral spirits. It is a socio-religious ceremony. Theyyam is celebrated usually from October to May every year. A multicolored show along with the enthusiastic crowd and the religious favor is worth watching.
Mandala Festival is celebrated continuously for 41 Days. Mandala Pooja starts from the first day of Vrishchikam (Malayalam month) around November – December as per English Calendar and concludes on the eleventh day of Dhanu (between December and January) according to English Calendar. During Mandala festival, the devotees visit at the famous temples of Lord Ayyappa and Lord Sabarimala. The celebration implies 41 days of austerities where a devotee must live a simple and pious life.
Makaravilakku at Sabarimala Festival:
Makaravilakku is an annual festival of Kerala and it is celebrated every year on the 14th January (Makar- Sankranti) at the shrine of Sabarimala. The festival includes the Thiruvabharanam (sacred ornaments of Lord Ayyappa) procession and a congregation at the shrine of Sabarimala. Every year numerous devotees gather in the temple premises to participate in the celebrations of Makaravilakku.
Attukal Pongala is celebrated basically by women at Bhagavathy Temple at Attukal in Thiruvanathapuram district. The festival is an annual gathering of women to offer Pongala (boiled rice) in a clay pot. The festival is celebrated in the month of Kumbham (Malayalam Calendar) in between February and March according to English Calendar. Attukal Pongala has become an icon of devotion and loyalty to Devi, the Mother goddess and above all a celebration of womanhood. According to believers, Pongala recharges the body, mind and soul of a devotee and leaves an inspiring happiness and make her spiritually and mentally prepared to face all the challenges of the future. As per records, more than 3 million women participated in the Attukal Pongala festival held last year which has been recognized by Guinness Book of World Records twice as the largest gathering of women in the world.
The multihued festival Kettukazcha or Kutirakettu is celebrated in Kollam district of South Kerala in the village called Nooranad. Kettukazcha is celebrated during the months of August and September in Oachira Temple located in Oachira in Kollam and believed to be one of the most sacred places of Kerala. The special feature of the Temple is the absence of Deity and the importance is given to Cosmic Consciousness (Parabrahmam). The procession of decorated models of Lord Shiva's vehicle 'Nandi', the bull is carried out from this temple. This charming festival of rural Kerala attracts thousands of people every year.
The happy crop festival, Puthari is also known as Huthari is eminent at its best in South India. Puthari is celebrated after the paddy harvest in the Malayali month of Chingam, around August-September. The production of Rice is almost completed during this festival and is directly brought to the house from the fields. It is basically the festival of hard-work and rejoices by dancing and singing together. Villagers congregate at temples and celebrate Puthari
Ashtami Rohini is the sacred celebration and is regarded to be a birthday of Lord Krishna. The same festival is celebrated in North India with some variations due to regional deviation. Ashtami Rohini is celebrated in the month of Chingam (Malayali month) in between August and September