Fairs and Festivals of Kerala
Fairs and festivals in kerala is celebrated through out the year to the length and breadth. Every festival, though connected with religious temples and shrines, is more of a socio cultural event in which people of all creeds participate. Today, these festivals are perhaps the only occasions when the classical, folk and ritual arts of the state come alive. It is also interesting to note that no celebration in Kerala is complete without an elephantpageant.
The fair and festivals of Kerala are vibrant and packed with centuries of unbroken tradition. They are spectacular, enchanting, colourful, mesmerising, miraculous display of fireworks, processions of gold bedecked elephants etc. You'll have to keep coming back for a lifetime to really witness this myriad range of experiences.
The dates of these festivals change every year according to the indigen. There is no better way of getting to know people and their land than experiencing their festivals. And Kerala has so many of them,some of Kerala's innumerable festivals, however, stand out because of their uniqueness.
The Famous Fair and Festival of Kerala :
Onam is the national festival of the Malayalees. It is a festival quite unique to Kerala. Like all other traditional festivals, the promotion of amity and social cohesion is the aim of celebrating Onam.
There is a popular myth associated with Onam. The Gods became jealous of the goodwill enjoyed by the Asura King Mahabali, the benevolent king of Kerala. So they plotted a way to get rid of him. Lord Vishnu came down to earth in the guise of Vamana, a midget. He took advantage of the good king's benevolence and tricked him into leaving his kingdom and kicked Mahabali to the nether world. But as a courteous gesture, Lord Vishnu gave Mahabali permission to visit his kingdom and people once a year. This visit of Mahabali marks Onam, the festival of plenty.
The main feature of the festival of Onam is a vociferous welcome to King Mahabali.In millions of households in Kerala. Onam is symbolized by icons that are literally earthy. Made of clay or mud, these conical objects are adorned with flowers and worshipped as Thrikkakara Appan, symbolizing the vamana avatharam of Lord Vishnu, which is central to the Onam legend.
That Onam is being celebrated in Tirupaty also confirms the fact that Onam was popular in the southern region before becoming confined to Kerala after the 10th century AD. Mangudy Marudanar, one of the noted poets of the Sangam Age, is said to have described the Onam celebrations in the Pandyan capital of Madurai in one of his poems.
Thrissur Pooram :
Thrissur Pooran, the pooram of all Poorams, falls in April every year. It is intrinsically a people's festival in all respects. It is different from other national festivals like the Kumbha Mela of Uttar Pradesh, the Vijayadashami pageantry of Mysore or the Rath Yatra of Orissa. Pooram is participated and conducted by people cutting across all barriers of religion and caste.
The unique catholic nature of Pooram could be traced to its genesis two centuries ago when Sakthan Thampuran (1751-1805), the very architect of Thrissur, became the ruler of the erstwhile state Kochi. He took up the renovation of the Vaddakkannathan temple temple complex which was enclosed by high walls. The four massive gopurams of the temple have been ascribed to him. At a time when nobody would have dared to look straight at the almighty Namboodiris, Sakthan Thampuran stripped of their powers and took over the administration of the temple that claimed an antiquity of more than three centuries. It was he who made the sprawling Thekkinkadu Maidan the major venue of Thrissur Pooram. Again, he entrusted the onus of holding the festival to the two public temples- Tthiruvampadi and Paramekkavu temples that had never been under the control of the Namboodiris. He himself is said to have drawn up the 36-hour hectic schedule of the Pooram festival.
Thrissur Pooram, the mother of all temple festivals in the state, is essentially one of spectacles. The two devaswams- Thiruvampadi and Paramekkavu- explore and exploit every source at their command to make this annual festival a memorable one. It is celebrated with a colourful procession of caparisoned elephants, parasol exchanges, drum concerts, display of pyro-techniques and refreshing scenes of public participation. During the festival season, Thrissur, popularly known as the temple town turns into a town of colour, music and mirth. The Pooram programmes extending about 36 hours begins with the ezhunellippu of the Kanimangalam Shasta in the morning and is followed by the ezhunnellippu of the other six minor temples on the Pooram Day. The ezhunnellippu programme which is considered to be a ritual sybolising the visit of the Devi from the Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi temples to the Vadakkunnathan temple.
Malayattoor Perunnal :
This holy Malayattoor Church is one of the most important Christian pilgrim centres in Kerala. It attracts devotees in very large numbers not only from Kerala but also from the neighbouring states. This famous church is situated at Kurisumudi, a verdant hill in the Western Ghats, girdled partially by the river Periyar.
Legends credit St. Thomas as having established about seven and a half churches in Kerala ( here half is only indicative of a church smaller in size.) These seven churches were established at Kodungallur, Palayur, Paravur, Kokomangalam, Niranam, Chayal, and Kollam. The Malayattoor Church and the Tiruvamcode Church in the Kanyakumari district of Tamilnadu are considered to be the half church. But some believe that the Malayattoor Church is one of the major churches built by St. Thomas and they argue that the churches at Kokomanagalam and Paravur must be regarded as one.
The first Sunday after Easter is a very important day at Malayattoor. Pilgrims, chanting the name of the Apostle, 'Ponninkurisumala Muthappa', climb Kurisumudi, the steep hill to visit the holy shrine. The Church has a life-size statue of St. Thomas and the imprint of the feet of the Apostle on a rock.
Nehru Cup Snake Boat Race :
This spectacular event, which is the most famous single attraction in Alappuzha, is held on the second Saturday of every August The Nehru Trophy Snake Boat Race is a spectacle par excellence and it can be described as the biggest team sport in the world. It is the queerest display of a rural culture and rural vitality in a fast urbanising world. It is Kerala's greatest tourism event. It is estimated that some two lakh spectators come to witness this spectacular show on the earth. Not only tourists from abroad and from other states but locals as well throng the place to watch the race.
It is called the Nehru Trophy Boat Race because the Cambridge-educated Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister, offered a trophy if such a race was organised. Thus began the race for this trophy every year in the backwaters off the canal town of Alleppey.
Cochin Carnival :
Cochin Carnival is a merry making feast observed during the last week of every year in Fort Kochi in Kerala. Its origin goes back to the Portuguese New Year revelry here during the colonial days. With unique games, competitions and illumination during these days, Fort Kochi puts on a festive look. The highlight of the Carnival is the massive procession on the New Year Day. The procession is led by a caparisoned elephant accompanied by drums and music, spectacular floats, different folk art forms, Panchavadyam etc.
Indira Gandhi Boat Race :
As part of the tourism fair celebrated every year during the last week of December, a boat race is organized at Ernakulam. Several snake boats vie with one another to win the coveted trophy. This boat race with its heart throbbing rhythm of drum music provides an unforgettable experience to the spectators.
Christmas and Easter are the important festivals of Christians. Christmas falls on 25th December and it commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ. Singing carols, setting up Christmas Trees, exchange of cards and receiving gifts from Santa are all an integral part of the festivities associated with the birth of Jesus Christ.
Deepavali (Diwali) literally means a string of lights. Thousands of little oil lamps light up the night, spectacular fireworks decorate the skies and delicious sweets mark the merry mood of the people are the highlights of this famous national festival of India. The festival falls in the Malayalam month Thulam (October - November)
The Thiruvathira festival falls on the asterism Thiruvathira in the Malayalam month of Dhanu (December-January). The origin of the festival is shrouded in obscurity. The people celebrate this festival upon age-old tradition and they do it with great joy and respect for the past. The Ardra Darshan celebrated in Tamil Nadu corresponds to Thiruvathira of Kerala. It is considered to be highly auspicious to worship Shiva and the devotees go to the temple before sunrise for Darshan. Apart from the worship in the Shiva temple, there is very little celebration in the houses. Tradition has it that Thiruvathira festival is celebrated in commemoration of the death of Kamadeva, the mythological God of Love. According to another version, Thiruvathira is the birthday of Lord Shiva.
Navaratri Festival :
Navarathri, the ten-day festival in honour of Goddess Saraswathy is celebrated across the nation in October-November. The last three days of the festival - Durgashtami, Mahanavami, and Vijayadasami are very auspicious and significant.
The Easter :
Easter is as oldest as Christianity itself. The central tenet of Christianity is not the birth of Jesus, but his resurrection. The content of Easter was gradually analysed into historical events and each began to be celebrated on a different day.