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Kerala Festivals: Top 10 Fairs & Festivals Of Kerala 2021

With the best Ayurvedic treatments in Kerala to pamper yourself to an unforgettable culinary experience to satiate your taste buds; the fun factor multiplies if you add colorful festivals of Kerala to your to-do-list. One of the best tourist places in India, Kerala is famous for its aromatic spices, tea plantations, and stunning topography which comprises serene backwaters, verdant tea gardens, sprawling spice plantations, virgin beaches, and whatnot! Savor the surreal beauty of Kerala. 

Witnessing the vibrancy of God’s own country through an array of colorful and electrifying festivals is one of the enriching experiences that a traveler can discover. Scroll through the festivals of Kerala to mark your travel calendar! 

1. Onam

Onam, festivals of kerala

Onam is a grand national harvest festival of Kerala which attracts a large number of tourists from different parts of India. According to legend, the Onam festival is celebrated to mark the return of demon King Mahabali to the land of Kerala. Every year, the Onam festival is celebrated for 10 days during which various rituals are followed with great devotion to welcome the kind-hearted and generous King. These ten days of Onam are named Atham, Chithira, Chodi, Vishakam, Anizham, Thriketta, Moolam, Pooradam, Uthradom, and Thiruvonam. During these ten days of Onam, Kerala looks utterly vibrant as people wear new clothes, cook delicacies, decorate their houses, and organize various cultural events. 

When is Onam celebrated?

Usually falls in the month of August and September every year

Where is Onam celebrated?

All over Kerala

What is the Highlight of Onam?

Onasadya (nine-course meal), Onakalikal (games played during Onam), Elephant Procession, Pulikali & Thumbi Thullai (folk dances), Vallamkali Boat Race

2. Attukal Pongala

festivals of kerala, Attukal Pongala

Attukal Pongala is a religious festival of Kerala that is dedicated to Goddess Bhagavathi. Celebrated for 10 days at the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Attukal Pongala marks the world’s largest congregation of women. The most fascinating part of this festival is that entry of men is strictly prohibited inside the temple complex since it's a women-centric festival of the state.

When is Attukal Pongala celebrated?

Usually falls in the month of February

Where is Attukal Pongala celebrated?

Attukal Bhagavathy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram

What is the highlight of Attukal Pongala?

Act of making payasam and World’s largest congregation of women

Suggested Read: 8 Best Tourist Places In Kerala That Are Travellers Delight

3. Vishu

Vishu, Kerala Festival

Vishu is a spring festival of Kerala which is celebrated on the first day of the Malayalam calendar. Also known as the new year in Kerala, the celebration of Vishu involves decorating houses and bursting crackers. Vishu Kani, comprising rice, fruits, coins, and Konna flowers is arranged by the eldest female member of the family and offered to Lord Krishna on the day prior to the festival. People wear new clothes and prepare delicious Sadya to celebrate the festival that brings prosperity.

When is the Vishu Festival celebrated?

The month of Medam which usually falls in April/May

Place where Vishu Festival is celebrated?

All over Kerala

What is the highlight of the Vishu Festival?

Decorations, preparation of Sadya, and bursting of crackers

4. Thrissur Pooram

Kerala Festival: Thrissur Pooram

Thrissur Pooram is an annual temple festival of Kerala which is worth witnessing. It is a grand assembly of Gods and Goddesses who visit Vadakkumnathan Temple premises on elephants adorned with ornaments. Caparisoned elephants, vibrant umbrellas, and the rhythmic beating of drums add to the vibe of the festival. Another high point of this cultural festival is a phenomenal instrumental performance that gives a kaleidoscopic view of Kerala’s vibrant festivals.

When is Thrissur Pooram celebrated?

Month Of Medom which falls in April-May

Place where Thrissur Pooram is celebrated?

Thekkinkadu Maidanam, Thrissur

What is the highlight of Thrissur Pooram?

Kudamattam ceremony and Ilanjithara melam

5. Theyyam Festival

Theyyam Festival

The spectacular dance festival of Kerala, Theyyam is precisely considered as God’s dance which actually has 400 unique forms. With different make-up, costumes, songs, choreography in each dance form, what’s worth witnessing is the size and appearance of ornaments adorned by the Theyyam dancers. The 4-day festival is dated back to the Dravidian age and is an integral part of the ancient tribal culture of Kerala.

When is the Theyyam Festival celebrated?

Between December and April

Place where the Theyyam Festival is celebrated?

Kasargod and other regions of Kerala

What is the highlight of the Theyyam Festival?

Kaliyattam, a ritual dance in Kerala

Suggested Read: 7 Best Beaches In Kerala To Add Romance In Your Life

6. Boat Race Festival

Boat Race Festival

One of the major highlights of Kerala Tourism, the Boat Race Festival of Kerala alone draws thousands of tourists from all over the world. With as many as four popular snake boat races, the Nehru Trophy on Alleppey's Punnamada Lake and Aranmula Snake Boat Race draw the maximum number of visitors owing to the grandeur. The tradition of the snake boat race is as old as 400 years when the kings of different regions used to fight with each other in boats. Boat race festivals in Kerala are usually a one-day affair, however, in Aranmula it is celebrated for 10 days at a stretch. 

When is the Boat Race Festival celebrated?

Boat races are held during the 10 days of the Onam festival which falls somewhere in August and September

Place where the Boat Race Festival is celebrated?

Alleppey, Champakulam, Payippad, Aranmula

What is the highlight of the Boat Race Festival?

The rhythmic rowing of 100 feet long snake boats.

7. Makaravilakku

Kerala Festival: Makaravilakku

The famous Makar Sankranti festival of India is celebrated as Makaravilaku in Kerala. It is the traditional festival of Kerala when Lord Ayyapan is worshipped with great devotion and many rituals like purification, Prasadasudhi (distribution of prasad ), Deeparadhana (lighting Diyas) take place at the Sabarimala temple which is a popular pilgrimage place in India. One of the significant festivals of Kerala, Makaravilakku is marked by the presence of saints and lakhs of devotees from all over India.

When is Makaravilakku celebrated?

Every year in mid-January

Place where Makaravilakku is celebrated?

The shrine of Sabarimala

What is the highlight of Makaravilakku?

Makarajyothi, the lighting of the lamp on the Ponnambalamedu hill

8. Adoor Gajamela

Adoor Gajamela, Festivals in Kerala

As the name suggests, Adoor Gajamela is an elephant festival of Kerala which is celebrated to honor Lord Krishna. Adoor Gajmela is a ten-day festival that is celebrated with great fervor every year. Various cultural programs are organized along with the parade of 9 mighty elephants that are beautifully adorned with paints and metal ornaments. Synonymous to the grand fair of tuskers, Adoor Gajamela is a treat to the eyes of people who love to watch the unique customs of Kerala.

When is Adoor Gajamela celebrated?

The month of Makaram, i.e. somewhere in January or February

Place where Adoor Gajamela is celebrated?

Parthasarathy Temple in Adoor

What is the highlight of Adoor Gajamela?

Cultural Programs and 9 mighty tuskers being paraded, adorned with a plethora of special decorations.

9. Painkuni Festival

Painkuni Festival

The most celebrated 10-day festival of Kerala, the Painkuni Festival is hosted at the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple with great pomp and show. On the ninth day of the Painkuni festival, the head of the Travancore Royal Family performs the ritual of royal hunt ritual which is known as Palli Vetta near the Vettakkorumakan Temple in the Fort area. Massive figures of Pandavas are made with fiberglass which is placed at the eastern gate of the temple to appease the God of Rain, Indra. On the tenth day of the festival, these figures are immersed in the sea near Shanghumugham beach.

When is the Painkuni Festival celebrated?

Somewhere in the month of March and April

Place where the Painkuni Festival is celebrated?

Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram

What is the highlight of the Painkuni Festival?

The grand Arattu procession near Shanghumugham beach and unique rituals

10. Ambalapuzha Arattu

Ambalapuzha Arattu

Ambalapuzha Arattu is a ten-day festival in the small coastal town of Kerala which begins with the special flag hoisting ceremony called Kodiyettu. During this festival of Kerala, the procession by caparisoned tuskers is carried out and Velakali, the martial art form originated in Ambalapuzha is performed. A special feast, Ambalapuzha Nadakashala Sadya is served on Pallivetta day. The 10-day festival concludes with Arattu which is the holy bath of the deity at Shangumugham beach.

When is Ambalapuzha Arattu celebrated?

Meenam that falls in the month of March and April

Place where Ambalapuzha Arattu is celebrated?

The Coastal town of Ambalapuzha in Kerala

What is the highlight of Ambalapuzha Arattu?

Kodiyettu, Ambalapuzha Nadakashala Sadya, Velakali, Arattu

Frequently Asked Questions About The Festivals of Kerala:

Q1. What is the new name of Kerala?

Ans. There is no new name for Kerala, however, it was proposed to be named Keralam.

Q2. How many festivals are celebrated in Kerala?

Ans. Kerala is a land of many festivals around the year. However, we have listed 10 famous festivals of Kerala which have immense significance and popularity.

Q3. How is Makar Sankranti celebrated in Kerala?

Ans. Makar Sankranti is celebrated as Makaravilaku in Kerala

Q4. What is Pongal called in Kerala?

Ans. Pongal is called Attukal Pongala in Kerala. Pongal is basically preparing payasam which is offered to God. Payasam is prepared with ingredients such as rice, desiccated coconut, jaggery, sugar, banana, raisins, cashew nuts, honey, and cardamom.

Boasting unique eco-tourism, vibrant festivals, aromatic spices, delectable cuisines, marvelous architecture; the reasons are unlimited to venture out and explore this beautiful state of Kerala which lies on the tropical Malabar Coast towards the southern tip of India. From vibrant dance performances to colorful carnivals, there’s a lot to discover in Kerala. Plan your trip with Adotrip to make sure you have beautiful memories for a lifetime! You can also book flights, buses, hotels, and tour packages because, with us, nothing is far! 

--- Published By  Shradha Mehra