Festivals of Kerala

The people of Kerala celebrate various festivals and irrespective of religion, all the people of Kerala come together to celebrate all festivals in a spirit of brotherhood. Onam the harvest festival of Kerala is also a state festival. It is celebrated in the month of Chingam according to the Malayalam calendar. This means that Onam is generally celebrated in the months of August-September. Onam is celebrated by all Keralites irrespective of religion, caste and creed. It marks the return of King Mahabali, who visits his subjects once a year. Onam is a ten day festival and is linked to many elements of Kerala’s traditions and culture.Onam is an ancient festival. According to the traditional legend, King Mahabali was a great and benevolent king and his subjects lived in a golden utopian era. The Gods began to fear his growing popularity and became jealous of him. Lord Vishnu, in the form of a dwarf, approached the king and tricked him into going down to the Netherworld. But simultaneously the Lord granted the king a boon that he could visit his people once a year.

The greatest and most important part of the Onam celebrations is the Onasadya or the traditional feast that consists of eleven to thirteen dishes and is served on a banana leaf. Other features of the Onam celebrations in Kerala include the Vallamkali or the snake boat races, the pulikali or the tiger dance and the preparation of the pookalam or the flower carpet in front of the houses to welcome Mahabali. People wear new clothes .The first day of the ten day festival starts with Atham which marks the start of the Thrikkakara Temple (Mahabali’s abode) annual festival.Vishu is celebrated on the 14th of April. It marks the Malayalee New year. It signifies the Vernal equinox. The most important aspect of this festival is the Vishukani which is the first thing to be seen on the day of the festival. The Vishukani consists of an arrangement of auspicious articles like rice, a couple of lemons, golden yellow cucumber, betel leaves, arecanut, a metal mirror, and the yellow Konna flowers along with silver and gold coins are arranged in an open vessel called an urali. The mother of the family wakes up early, lights the lamp in front of the arrangement and then wakes each member of the family and brings them with their eyes closed in front of the Vishukani, where they open their eyes to take in the auspicious sight. Bursting crackers is an essential part of the festival especially for children. The father of the family gives money to all the members of the family. This money is known as Vishukaineetam and is looked forward to with great enthusiasm by the children. .

Mahashivaratri is literally the night of Shiva. It is the night that the Lord is believed to have performed His cosmic Dance or the Thandav Nritya. It is celebrated with great pomp and splendor especially at the Shiva temple at Aluva near Ernakulam on the banks of the River Periyar.The Christian community celebrate Christmas and Easter in the same manner in which they are celebrated the world over. However intermingled with the culture and traditions of Kerala these two festivals are celebrated across the state with fervor, unconditional love, unity and brotherhood.The Muslim Festivals of Ramzan and Bakrid are also celebrated by the people of Kerala in the manner in which they are celebrated across the world.

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