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KERALA FESTIVALS

 
A rich and electic mix of religious influences make Kerala a comfortable home for Hinduism, Christianity and Islam.Not to mention, remaining traces of Buddhism, Jainism and Judaism. Festival season in Kerala begins in August, after the rains. Kerala's most colourful festival, Onam celebrates the golden age of King mahabali,the mythical ruler of Kerala.


Mahashivratri (february-march)
Mahashivratri in Alwaye is a greatest festival of Lord Shiva, one of the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Celeberated with considerable fervour on the sandbanks of the Periyar river, it's an all-night festival filled with lights and chanting, best seeen either from a boat on the river or from the old palace, now a tourist bungalow, on the opposite bank. A fair springs up in Aluva catering to thousands of pilgrims who assemble here. A little before dawn gilds the flowing water of the river, devotees make offerings for the response of their ancestors' souls, many releasing floating oil lamps on the Periyar.

Malayattur feast (end-march early april)
The Malayattur-Feast commemorates the establishment of one of the seven churches and shrine by St. Thomas, the Apostle of Christ. As St. Thomas sailed from Syria to the ancient port of Kodugallore his followers are still known as Syrian Christians. On this feast, celeberated on the second Sunday after Easter Sunday, devotees wind up the 2,000-foot-high hill, treading a stony path to a simple little church. Chants and prayer fill the air there is the inevitable fair.

Chandanakuda Mahotsavam(march- april)

Chandankuda Mahotsavam celeberated in Bheemapalli, 5 km from Thiruvanthapuram railway station, center around the tomb of a renowned Muslim woman, Beema Beevi. Devotees bring small earthen pots, smeared with sandalwood paste, covered with fine white cloth, tied with a garland, and fragrant with smoking incense sticks. Inside the posts are coins. Within the walls of the shrine, in the brightly-illuminated night, devotees preform acts of self-purification as swordsmen display their skills. Outside the walls of are held dance, music and drama performances. In the small hours of the morning, the tomb's flag is taken out in procession, led by two decorated elephants and accompanied by the traditional elephants and accompanied by the traditional orchestra. The festivities end with an impressive fireworks display.



Trissur Pooram(april-may)
Trissur Pooram is the festival of the great vadakkumnathan temple crowning the hill around which the town has grown. Only on trissur Pooram day are non-Hindus allowed to enter the temple, built in the ancient style of Kerala- sanded courts, wooden louvers stone sculptures, a traditional auditourium and multi-level roofs, in many ways like a Japanese shrine.

In the evening, two lines of 13 elephants face each other on the slope below the temple. Each pachydern bears an umbrella-holder, a peacock-fan carrier and a yak-tail fly whisk wielder. Between the two lines of beast stand percussion and wind orchestras. All around are massed teeming crowds of spectators. As each orchestra reaches a crescendo, a new display of brilliant ceremonial umbrellas blossoms over the elphants and the supportings and the supporting crowd applauds. This goes on till elephants and the supporting crowd applauds. This goes on till sunset when the elephants depart and, late at night, the darkness elplodes with a magnificent fireworks display.

Edapally Perunal(april-may)
Edapally Perunal, or Chicken Festival as it more popularly called, goes on for many days from around 23rd april. Festivities center around St. George's Forane Roman Catholic church, said to have been built in 593 A.D, and is 12 km from Cochin- Ernakulam. The dragon-slaying St.George is widely venerated in Kerala. Thousands of devotees camp around the church, revere the saint's reportedly miraculous statue, take part in solemn relegious ceromonies in the church and make offerings of live fowls. These are then auctioned, cooked and eaten in the devotee's camp. Thus, through the strongly worshipful atmosphere of the festival run bright threads of picnic gaiety.

Aranmula Boat Pageant(aug-sept)

The Aranmula Boat Pageant, or Aranmula Uthittahi, conducted on the Pamba river in front of Sri Parthasarathy temple. According to legend, the pagent recalls the time when the idol installed in the temple was ferried across the river in a raft made of six bamboo poles. 'Ara' is six in Malayalam, the language of most of the people of Kerala. Through large Snake Boats take part in this festival, they do not race with each other. Instead, they row in unsion, to the accompaniment of songs, and reach their destination together because Lord Krishna is believed to be present in each boat.

Shri Padmanabhaswamy utsav(oct-nov&march-april)

The Shri Padmanabhaswamy Utsav in Thiruvananthapuram. The ancestor of the former rulers of Travancore, who had their capital in Thiruvananthapuram, was the astute warrior-king Marthanda Varma. he claimed he ruled on behalf of the real monarch, the idol of lord Padmanabhaswamy installed in the capital's most important temple.

The temple festival, or Utsav, lasts for 10 days. On the last day the idol is taken out of the temple in a procession led by two elephants with drummers proclaiming the arrival of the lrd. behind them, with a drawn sword, walks the main who would have been the ruler had the days of kingship not ceased. Six other elephants follow and armed guards march through the streets lined with spectators.
After the ceremonial purification bath of the idol in the Arabian Sea, the procession with all the trappings of royality, illuminated by flaming torches, winds its way back to the temple. An interesting feature of this festival is the all-night performance of the dance-drama, Kathakali.

Shri Poornathrayeesa Temple Utsav(2nd week of Nov)
Shri Poornathrayeesa Temple Utsav, tripunithura, 10 km from Erankulam, anually celeberates five festivals of which the most important is the weeklong Utsav in November. On the first three days, 15 caparisoned elephants and a percussion and wind orchestra put on an impressive display. There are also performance of the clasical dance-drama, Kathakali, the clasical Ottanthullal, Chakyarkoothu and folk entertainment.

Interestingly, for the second half of this festival, celeberations extend into the night, adding a dramatic dimension to the activities. in the old days of kingship, this temple was the official place of worship of the princely family of Cochin.

Christmas(25 december)
Christmas, celeberated all over Kerala, is basically a family festival, but because of Kerala's Christmas heritage, and the fact that such religious celeberations soon become faith-bridging social festivals, christmas decorations brighten many non-Christians shops and houses. Particularly appealing are the constellations of Christmas stars that twinkle every night all over the state.

Cochin Carnival(last week ofdecember)
The Cochin Carnival, Vasco-da-Gama Square, Fort Cochi. This is a revival of end-of-the-year festivities introduced by the Portuguese during their stay in Cochin. many famlies in the old town of Fort Cochin still have portuguese names and an Iberian zest for music and celebrations. They have also drawn freely from their Indian roots and during this young festival, cycle race and sack fights merge effortlessly with teams matched in the trials of strength called Vadamvali and a sort of local precursor of cricket called Kuttiyum Kolum.



Nehru Cup Snake Boat race(2nd Saturday of Aug)
The Nehru Trophy Boat Race, the most colourful water sport in Kerala, is conducted at PUNNAMADA LAKE in Alleppey on the second saturday of every August. This prestigious cultural event of Kerala, which has been attending people from all over the world. Nehru Trophy Boat Race is a festival for the people of Alleppey. Though it is a festival, the attraction about this is the sportive sprits among the participants of the race.  
Several Boat races are taking place in several parts of Kuttanad and other parts of Alleppey. But today despite all the other water festivals and functions this particular event has gained popularity and attraction for many people.

This trophy was named as NEHRU TROPHY was awarded to the winners of the boat race which is a unique feature of community life and is gift to the people of Alleppey.  

This aquatic festival fosters a sense of unity and fraternity and sports man spirit event and attaching foreign tourists also.

In the year 1952, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru visited the erstwhile Travancore-Cochin. On his way to Alleppey from Kottayam he was given a roaring reception by the people of Alleppey, escorted by the huge snake-boats. Having gone through the tremendous excitement of sailing in a snake-boat popularly known as Chundan, Jawaharlal Nehru donated a rolling trophy to be awarded to the winner. The trophy is a replica of a snake-boat in silver, placed on wooden abacus on which the following words of Panditji are inscribed above his signature.

This trophy was later christened, 'Nehru Trophy'. 

Many different kinds of country-boats like Iruttukuthy, Veppu and Churulan also participate in the race; women and students also compete in the events over a distance of 4850 ft. The beautiful scenery of the race area together with the exciting snake-boat race, will ever remain a cherished memory for the onlookers. 

Alleppy, the land of lakes, lagoons and water courses, have had a prestigious and prosperous past. That is the reason why it earned the sobriquet, the Venice of the East. It signifies that Alleppey was a very alert and lively centre of trade and commerce.  

Nehru Trophy Boat Race, the renowned aquatic spectacle which manifests a rosy sprout of tourism, if nourished and nurtured in proper perspective, will give a sure and steady boost to the growth of tourism in Alleppey. 

Nehru Trophy Boat Race , the prestigious cultural event of Kerala, which has been attracting  peoples all over the world for more than four decades now, is a unique aquatic fete. Against the Sylvan backdrop of Kerala  landscape, this aquatic festival fosters a sense of unity and fraternity and sportsman spirit among the hundreds of participants as well as the thousands of spectators.

Onam (Aug/Sep)
Kerala is the land of lakes, lagoons and festivals.  After the long spell of monsoon rain the sky becomes blue again, the traditional festivals start to bloom throughout Kerala out of which ONAM stands out significantly.  Along with the enchanting natural beauty which dazzles every human eye, Kerala also owns a resplendent cultural and artistic tradition which reflects in her festivals and fairs.  
The unique national festival of Kerala, 'Onam' celebrated with ever growing zest by the entire people of this state irrespective of religion, caste or creed.  Perhaps the elequant artistic display is a legacy of the cultural past of Kerala.  One of the important event of 'ONAM' festival is the vegetarian feast( ONAM SADYA ), lavishly served to depict the glorious period of the rule of King Mahabali, a period free from crime, corruption. poverty, illness and exploitatory and when all people were equal.
King Mahabali is a wise and good king, but he belongs to the faction known as the Asuras, or demons.  The gods or Devas are afraid that he might become too powerful.  So they ask Vishnu (also known as the Preserver in the Hindu trinity of Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva or Creator-Preserver-Destroyer) to curb his power.  Vishnu takes the form of a dwarf called Vamana and knocks at the gates of Mahabali's palace.  The king receives him politely, feeds him, and offers Vamana a boon. 
'Ask what you will, commands the most powerful ruler in the world.
'Will you give me three paces of land?' asks Vamana.
The demon king laughs at the insignificance of the request and agrees at once.
'Remember, once you have promised, you can't go back on your word' the dwarf reminds him.
Even as Mahabali agrees to the conditions, the dwarf beings to expand.  With the first step he covers the whole sky, blotting out the stars.  With the second he straddles the nether world.  One more step and the earth will be destroyed.  At that moment, Mahabali realizes that he has been defeated.  He bends his head and offers it as the last step for Vamana. 
The gods rejoice, but since Mahabali was a ruler who loved his people, they agree that he should be allowed to return to them once a year.  The people of Kerala celebrate his return with flower carpets and lights, feasting and new clothes, feats of valour and games and fireworks during the   festival of Onam. 
The women wear their traditional costume: an off-white pure cotton sarong or Mundu with a woven gold border, and a matching breast cloth or thuni, draped across one shoulder over a tight fitting blouse in a contrasting colour.  The Kerala love for gold jewellery, is displayed in cascading go Id necklaces.  Little girls wear tiny gold 'parrot's cage ear rings and, since their mothers are busy presiding over small coconut-frond kiosks, selling fried banana fritters, they cling to their fathers, who sport pencil-thin moustaches and crests of perfumed and oiled hair.



 
 
 
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