Festivals of Kerala
Onam Celebration - Kerala
The 10-day festival is Kerala's most important festival, honouring King Mahabali, a mythological king of ancient Kerala, whose period was reckoned as the golden age in the history of the state. He was the embodiment of virtues, goodness, so was his regime which was marked by equality and harmony among people
Ten days of Onam
Onam festivities commence on Atham, ten days prior to Thiruvonam. Hence Atham is regarded as holy and auspicious by Keralites. Chithira marks the second day of celebrations; not many rituals are performed on this day but people do offer their prayers to evoke the divine blessings
The third day of the ten day long festival of Onam is called Chothi or Chodi. The day is marked by loads of activities. Frenzied shopping can be witnessed in the markets as everybody buys new clothes and accessories during Chingam. The excitement builds up on the fourth day - Vishagam or Vishakam.
Brisk activities in the market and households can be witnessed on the day of Vishakam
A major attraction of Anizham, the fifth day is the grand Snake boat race event called Vallamkali. This hugely popular competition is held on river Pamba at Aranmulla. A multitude of domestic and international tourists come to witness the colorful spectacle. On Triketa and Moolam, the sixth and seventh days, cultural programmes and social gatherings are organized by various malayali associations around the world. On Pooradam, the devotees create clay idols called Mathevar. As the idol is created on the day of Pooradam, it is also called Poorada Uttigal. Each Mathevar is decorated with flowers. On the ninth day - Uthradam, the tenants and dependents of large traditional joint families bring the produce of their farms or the product of their toil to the Karanavar (eldest member of the Tarawad). These gifts from the tenants to the Karanvar are called Onakazhcha.
The celebrations that begin on Atham, reach a crescendo on Thiruvonam. In the town of Trichur, a vibrant procession of caparisoned elephants is taken out. While at Cheruthuruthy, people gather to watch Kathakali performers enact scenes from epics and folk tales. Performers painted to resemble wild tigers, dance to the beats of instruments like udukku and thakil. At Aranmulla, a temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna and Arjuna where thousands of people gather to witness the exciting snake boat races. Nearly 30 chundan vallams or snake boats participate in the festival, singing traditional boat songs. Each snake boat belongs to a village and is worshipped like a deity. Every year, the boat is oiled with fish oil, coconut shell and carbon, mixed with eggs to keep the wood strong and boat slippery in the water
The festival falls on the asterism Thiruvathira in the Malayalam month of Dhanu (December-January). On thiruvathira morning, devotees throng Shiva temples for an early worship which is reckoned as highly auspicious. Tradition says Thiruvathira is celebrating the death of Kamadeva, the mythological God of Love. According to another version, Thiruvathira is the birthday of Lord Shiva.
Makaravillakku at Sabarimala
This festival in Sabarimala marks the end of Mandalam. For centuries, Sabarimala in Pathanamthitta has been a major pilgrim centre attracting lakhs of devotees from all over India, more so from southern States. The presiding deity is Lord Ayyappa known as Dharma Sastha, considered a symbol of unity between Vaishnavites and Saivites
Christmas, the most popular festival of the Christians, is celebrated to mark the birth date of Jesus of Nazareth. Besides, the celebration of the birth of Jesus, Christmas also combines various secular traditions influenced mainly by ancient winter festivals such as Yule and Saturnalia. A typical Christmas celebration includes Christmas trees, cakes, exchange of gifts and cards and the arrival of Santa Claus on the Christmas Eve to give away presents. The festival promotes goodwill, compassion and love
Among the various Hindu festivals in Kerala, Vishu occupies a unique position in more than one respect. As symbol of the unostentatious Malayali, Vishu is free from the usual pomp and show and merry-making associated with other festivities. When almost all the festivals are connected in some way or other with religion, Vishu has nothing to do with it, though it is observed with religious solemnity. The first day for Medam is the unchangeable day of Vishu, whereas other festivals are determined according to the lunar asterisms on which they fall. This day on which Vishu falls is the astronomical new year day and it is celebrated as such. The Malayalis believe that the fortunes for the year depend upon the nature of the object one sees first in the morning of Vishu Day. In order to fulfill the desire to look at the auspicious articles, they prepare a 'Kani' (anomen) on the previous day for seeing in the next morning. In circular bell-metal vessel known as 'Urule' some raw rice is put and over it a folded newly washed cloth is spread
Easter is the oldest Christian festival, as old as Christianity itself. The Central tenet of Christianity is not the birth of Jesus, but his resurrection. Easter derived from this paschal mystery and from the events of Good Friday
The content of Easter was gradually analyzed into historical events and each began to be celebrated on a different day. As a result, Easter grew into a Holy Week and came to have a preparatory season to precede and a festive season to follow. Thus we have four distinct periods in connection with the observance of Easter -
One of the largest and most spectacular temple festivals of the world, the Thrissur Pooram unfolds against the backdrop of the famed Vadakumnathan Temple in Trichur, the sanctum of Lord Shiva, the presiding deity of the city. Drawing huge masses of people and involving meticulous planning, this festival has been described as the 'mother of all poorams'. It is essentially an assemblage of the ten deities from nearby temples paying homage to their lord and benefactor, Vadakumnathan. Principle participants are the two temples of Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi; their friendly and much feted rivalry enlivens the proceedings. The pooram culminates in a parade of thirty elephants from adjoining temples and some stunning fireworks at 2.30, next morning
The unique feature of Ochira, one of the famous pilgrim centres of Kerala, is that there is no deity or idol at the famous Parabrahma temple dedicated to the Universal Consciousness. Ochira Kali held in mid June and the twelve day Panthrandu Vilakku (twelve lamp festival) in November/December are the two main annual festivals. Ochira Kali, is a mock fight enacted between groups of men dressed as warriors on the padanilam (battle field). They perform a martial dance standing in knee-deep water, brandishing swords and shields, and splashing water in every direction
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