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Kerala Festivals


Kerala - Festivals
Festivals of Kerala
Festivals of Kerala

Onam is the most important national festival of Kerala, falls in the month of Chingam (August-September). It is the harvest festival of Kerala. 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.
Thiruvathira falls on the month of Dhanu (December-January) and is a women’s festival. It commemorates the death of Kamadeva, the cupid of Hindu mythology. The aim of the celebration is conjugal harmony and happiness. The dance form Thiruvathirkkali is associated with this celebration.

The Vishu festival falls on the first day of Medam (April-May), the astronomical 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. This kani includes cadjan leaf book, gold ornaments, fresh and white cloth, a measure of rice or paddy, bell metal mirror, flowers of the Konna tree (Cussia fistula), halved jack fruits, halved coconuts, yellow cucumbur, and two standing oil lamps emitting sparkling light. An indispensable item connected with Vishu is the Vishu Kaineettam, which means the gift of money to the children and to the poor people by the elder members of the family.
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. In the Hindu homes, books and grandhas are arranged tastefully in a decorated room and all sorts of study and work are given up. The whole Mahanavamy day is devoted to worship of Saraswathi. The Vijaya Dasami day is observed as the day for the break up of the Puja and the initiation of children into the study of the alphabet (Vidyarambham) and work and study are resumed.
An important festivity associated with temple festivals in the Kollam and Alleppy 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.
Maha Shivaratri 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 Always 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.
  Vallom Kali
Among the typical festivals of Kerala the Vallomkali or boat regatta has a palce of honour. The most important of the boat regattas are held during the Onam season in Chingam (August-September) in the Allapuzha and Kottayam districts. Aranmula is the venue of the famous sake boat regatta held on the Uttrattati day in connection with the Onam festival.