Kerala is rightly called God’s own country, surrounded by serene beaches, beautiful coastlines, green hill stations, and tea and coffee plantations across the state. Kerala festivals are further celebrated in the same rich and grand manner, given their rich cultural heritage. The state earns a good amount of revenue through tourism. It is no wonder why tourists prefer the state, given its lush greenery, and peaceful environment. Know more about the important festivals of Kerala and their significance in this article.
Most Popular Festivals of Kerala:
The pride of India, heaven on earth, as a personal opinion, there is no better place for a nice vacation other than Kerala and today we are going to delve into the golden culture of this very state and their festivals. Confined between the western ghats and the Arabian sea, Kerala is a land of awe with its sweet and sour spices and its natural greenery apart from being a religion-ethnicity tolerant state. Kerala state is also a hub for all tourist attractions and what is more compelling than experiencing one of their native festivals? See more on Kerala festival information here.
Onam is the main festival of Kerala. If you are planning a mid-year visit to Kerala, be sure to take part in this famous festival of Kerala. The story behind the Onam festival is that being in exile, King Mahabali was allowed only once a year to return to his kingdom to check on his subjects and this once-a-year visit is celebrated as Onam. Even though the festivities are for 10 days, all these days are fun-packed and merry. Several cultural programs are held of dance and music along with fairs. People celebrate this festival with much gaiety and fervour. All kinds of delicious dishes, eye-catching pookalams are made with flowers, flower petals and leaves.
- Significance: This is one of the major festivals celebrated in Kerala when King Mahabali visits to check the well-being of his subjects.
- Key Attractions: Boat races, lip-smacking food, traditional attires and flower decorations
- When: Around September every year. Onam is also a state festival in Kerala.
- Where: All across the State of Kerala
- Date: 20-31st August 2023
See More: Trending Onam Sarees Collection
2. Attukal Pongala:
Attukal Pongala is a 10-day Hindu festival celebrated every year at the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram. On the 9th day of this festival, women gather in large numbers to offer divine pongala made of rice to Amma and it is believed that Amma will grant them a long life. The festival is marked as the largest gathering of women in the world.
- Significance: The largest festival for women in the world.
- When: falls in February or March month every year.
- Where: Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
- Date: February 27- March 8 2023.
Vishu, the traditional Malayalam New Year, is the most important festival Malayalis celebrate after Onam. Keralites celebrate this festival joyfully with their friends and family by decorating lamps, bursting crackers, wearing new clothes, adults giving small amounts of pocket money to children and eating delicious Vishu Sadya dishes. And people here believe that certain items first seen on this day will bring you luck and fortune throughout the year.
- Significance: Traditional Malayalam New Year.
- When: It falls on the 14th or 15th of April every year.
- Where: All over Kerala.
- Date: April 15, 2023.
Another well-known festival celebrated in Kerala is Thiruvathira or Arudhra Darisanam. This is celebrated in December. The festival Thiruvathira in Kerala is a celebration of devotion, love and dance. Special prayers are offered by women and young girls dressed in traditional attire. This festival relates to the birth of Lord Shiva. Thiruvathirakali a dance form dedicated especially to this event is also an integral part of the festival.
- Significance: This festival is a celebration of the birth of Lord Shiva by women in the state.
- Key attractions: One must witness how women are dressed in traditional attire and celebrate with prayers and offerings along with special dances.
- When: This famous festival of Kerala takes place around December
- Where: All across Kerala by Hindu women
- Date: 6th January 2023
[See More: Most Famous Temples in Kerala]
5. Makaravilakku Festival:
It is an annual festival that takes place in January when people gather in Sabarimala to celebrate the Makaravillakku festival which is the worship of Lord Ayyappa. A large number of devotees from all around the country especially in southern regions flock to Sabarimala to witness and participate in this auspicious event. The very next month the Aluva Sivarathri Festival is celebrated on the banks of River Periyar. Mythology says that Lord Shiva once consumed a barrel full of poison to save the world from utter destruction and to celebrate this very day people crowd around the river banks, staying up the night to read holy books and once the vigil ends, the Bali ritual is also performed at dawn.
- Significance: Worshipping of Lord Ayyappa.
- Key Attractions: Grand prayers and offerings, many come to witness this sight in Sabarimala every year
- When: Around January, this is one of the major festivals of Kerala
- Where: At Sabarimala
- Date: 14th January 2023
6. Kerala Village Festival:
The next on the list of Kerala festivals is the village festival. In January Kerala witnesses the Kerala village festival on the sands of the Kovalam beach. This beachside fair is a great platform to showcase the local talent in handicrafts, handlooms and arts. The architecture depicting the cultures of Kerala comes to life. All the crowds, the locals and the tourists gather together to celebrate this 10-day fair on the beach shores.
- Significance: The idea behind this Kerala village fair/festival is to not allow old traditions and customs to be forgotten. Hence they recreate the village idea in traditional style for these 10 days.
- Key Attractions: Culture and traditions of Kerala, dances and songs and food items
- When: Around mid-January
- Where: Kovalam beachside
- Date: Dates not announced
7. Thrissur Pooram Festival:
During the months of April or May, the Thrissur Pooram festival takes place in Thrissur. The best elephants from all around Kerala are gathered and decorated with ornaments, and then these elephants are all led in a procession to Thrissur. The magnificence of all the elephants travelling to their destination is a sight worth seeing.
- Significance: Celebrations began from the time of Raja Rama Varma in ancient times to unify all 10 deities in temples in Thrissur and pray for Siva.
- Key attractions: Elephant procession and rich customs along with heavy and grand decorations
- When: Around April to May every year
- Where: At Thrissur
- Date: 10th May 2023
[See More: Magical Temples In Kochi]
Then there are other festivals celebrated like Navaratri, the Islamic Chandanakudam Mahotsavam and Pongal festival. All these are celebrated with equal enthusiasm and splendour. The Vishu festival in Kerala has also been celebrated to mark the advent of the New Year. The Onam festival of Kerala is considered to be the State festival and is important for all who celebrate this festival in peace and harmony and are celebrated by the people of all religions in Kerala. The Kerala elephant festival is one of the most colourful temple festivals celebrated in the form of processions. The traditional festivals in Kerala still adhere to age-old customs and traditions.
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers:
1. What is the most important festival in Kerala?
Onam is the most important State festival of Kerala. It is celebrated with much grandeur by all religions and communities together in harmony and love. Worshipping by offering prayers, celebrations, games, and races takes place around this time.
2. Why are elephant processions done in festivals in Kerala State?
The elephant processions generally occur during Onam and Thrissur Pooram. Around a hundred or more elephants are decorated and taken around in a procession. This is a part of the custom and traditions of Kerala. They play an important role in Hindu temples and carry the temple deity. Music and dance programs take place all over the State, and elephants are decorated with gold ornaments displaying the rich grandeur and cultural heritage of Kerala.
3. What is a feast called during Onam celebrations?
Onam Sadhya is a traditional dish served on a banana leaf during the Onam feast and celebrations. They include upperi, Sharkara Varatti, manga curry, naranga curry, ellisheri, pulissery, kaalan, olan, pachadi, inji curry, parippu curry, chor, sambar and other items included.