In Kerala festivals are a way of life, being an extremely culturally diverse state, Kerala has its own basket of authentic and traditional festivals related to religion and myths. Any event is treated with a festive mood with beliefs, ceremonies, and entertainment. The tiny strip of land has people from most religions and coexists in peace and harmony. Involvement is active and the vibe is recognized even days before festival dates.
Kerala’s most celebrated festival irrespective of caste creed and religion. It’s a ten day cultural celebration of welcoming the mythical King, Mahaballi. It is believed that during his reign the land was almost a paradise with peace and prosperity. Even the Gods were jealous about him, and Vishnu came in the “avathara” of “Vamanan” and pushed the king to the underworld and granted him his wish to visit his people once in a year and from then on Onam is celebrated to welcome King Mahaballi. This is the period when every one comes back home to be a part of the festivity and togetherness. Onam is also considered to be the harvest festival of Kerala. Flower carpets, Sadhyas – Traditional Kerala meal, snake boat races, tiger dances, kodi – new dress for the occasion all are part of Malayalees greatest celebration – Onam
It’s a cultural extravaganza with hundreds of decorated Elephants with loud Panjavadyam (combination of drums and other musical instruments). The event happens in the town of Trissur, at Vadakkumnathan temple. This two hundred year old festival was orchestrated by Raja Rama Varma alias Shakthan Thamburan, the then ruler of Kochi. Thampuran unified the major temples nearby and hosted the pooram as a major festival. The temples were identified as two groups dividing it as the western and the eastern group and named these groups with the major temple of their region i.e “Thiruvambady” and “Paramekkavu” respectively. These two groups dress up their elephants and stand opposite to opposite and change their umbrellas on top of the elephant during the pooram. Another major attraction is the fireworks which stay for long hours.
Vishu is considered to be the New Year for Malayalees. Even though being a Hindu festival. Everyone joins up this festive mood. A “Kanni”(omen) is prepared on the previous night with and idol of lord Krishna and the next day morning the eldest person of the family makes way for the younger ones by closing their eyes till they reach the “kanni”. Opens their eyes and sees the Kanni, the belief is that seeing the kanni will bring a great year ahead. “Kainetam” money is given to all the younger ones since it is the start of the year. By noon there would be “Sadya” served, traditional lunch, children all around playing and it becomes a great get together.
A ritual and a festival, mostly celebrated in north Kerala. Theyyam is a traditional, ancient art form where music, dance, color, costumes and a lot more are involved. This art forms is seriously considered to be a temple based divine ritual. Men of a unique tribe are eligible to perform the art and dance. At Payyannur, Kasargod district of Kerala, every year a theyyam festival is conducted between April and May. The human artist transforms himself into god and moves into a trance with red colored costumes, headgears and special accessories and fire. Different form of Theyyams could be seen here during the festival.
Being a state of different religions and customs, Kerala has at least one festival happening somewhere in the state every day in the year. Regional, temple and church based festivals also happen round the year. Muslim and Christian festivals like Miladi Sharif, Muharram, Bakrid, Christmas, New-year and Easter are also actively celebrated.