Kerala is the land of temples and every year these temples celebrate the annual festival traditionally at certain specific days of the year. The temple festival will last for a few days and the most common characteristic feature of all these festivals is the hoisting of a holy flag on the first day of the festival and it is brought down on the last day only. Temples who can afford it will also include a minimum of one richly caparisoned elephant who will be privileged to carry the temple deity on his shoulders and carry out a procession around the countryside. Such an elephant is considered auspicious and when this elephant visits the local homes of people, they present various offerings to God. The procession is accompanied with the Panchavadyam. You can choose a Kerala tour packages for family in accordance with your favorite festival, so that you can participate in the festival and enjoy it. A few important Kerala temple festivals would include:
Makaravillakku at Sabarimala
This is an annual festival held at Sabarimala on January 14 (Makar Sankranthi). The festivities include a procession of the sacred ornaments of Lord Ayappa and a congregation at the hill shrine of Sabarimala. The name refers to the lighting of a bright lamp at Poonambalamedu (the sanctum Santorum of Sabarimala) three times which marks the completion of Deeparadhana. Millions of devotes throng Sabarimala to get a view of Makara Vilakku.
Sivarathri is a very important Hindu festival that is celebrated annually in honor of Lord Shiva. There is a Sivarathri every month on the 13th night/ 14th day, but once in a year during late winter February/ March and before the arrival of spring marks Mahasivarathri. This day is spent solemnly and marks the remembrance of overcoming darkness and ignorance in life. The day is spent in Yoga, meditation and prayers towards Lord Shiva. The devotee stays awake the whole night and others visit Shiva temples or go on pilgrimages. Of which Sivarathri celebrated in Aluva is very popular. The place is on the banks of the river Periyar and is also called Aluva Manalpuram (manal means sand). Pilgrims offer Bali tharpanam (Sacrifice) to their ancestors on this bank in the morning succeeding the holy night. Commercially the place has developed considerably with many stalls to buy trinkets and other kinds of stuffs and games.
This Pongala festival held at Attukal temple in Thiruvananthapuram is a very popular and famous festival among women. It has also entered the Guinness book of world records as the single largest gathering of women for religious activities. This festival commences on Bharani Day of Kumbam month (Feb/March) and continues for nine days. On the ninth day thousands of women assemble and offer Pongala to the Goddess which includes cooking rice, jaggery, coconut and ghee in small pots on open flames.Kerala tour packages will include visits to these auspicious temples and you can avail the blessing of the Goddess by taking part in this festival. You can prebook these packages so that you can stay close to the temple premises and witness all the festivities in the temple.
Ayilyam is the most auspicious day at Mannarashala temple at Alappuzha. The temple is dedicated to Nagaraja (Serpent King). The unique feature of this temple is a Brahmin woman is the priestess in the temple. There are roughly 30,000 images of snakes along the path and during the Ayilyam asterism in the month of Thulam which falls in Oct/ Nov a procession of the images of snakes are taken to the Illam (the Brahmin ancestral home) and special prayers and offerings are made here. The priestess carries the idol of Nagaraja.
Vishu is the celebration of the first day of the Malayalee Year which falls on the first of Medam month (Mid April). This festival is celebrates at home with Kanni Kanal early morning and the feast that is made in the afternoon. The night before Vishu, auspicious article are collected and arranged in a big Uruli (a big traditional vessel). This is kept in the Puja room and lamps are lit around it. Every member of the family gets up at dawn and with closed eyes they come to the puja room and open their eyes to this visual treat. Later on enjoying the Sadya and bursting of firecrackers together with the family is a part of the festival. Another important part of this festival is elders will give little children a Kaineetam (a tradition of giving money).Kerala tourism honeymoon packages has incorporated festivals in their holiday packages so that tourists can enjoy the best of all the festivals that Kerala has to offer. You can also eat the traditional Sadya with delicious Payasam (puddings).
Onam is the harvest festival of Kerala. Celebrated in the month of Chingam (August/September), this festival lasts for 10days and beginning with the star Atham of the Malayalam calendar. This festival is celebrated to honor Vamana Avatar of Lord Vishnu and the homecoming of King Mahabali. From the first day onwards a flower decoration or Pookalam is made in the front courtyard of the house and on the 6th day which is the Triketta star the flower decoration will have a specific design, small circle close to a big circle. Usually small children get together and put this Pookalam’s. On the 10th day is Thiruvonam (main Onam) and a puja is done to Onnathapan by offering him delicacies and bananas. A long path way is made with the stem of banana plant cut into tiny pieces, from the gate up to the front door of the house, to welcome Mahabali. This is believed to bring peace and prosperity to the family. Women perform Thiruvathirakali which is a simple dance form performed at households and family gatherings. Pullikalli, where people dress up like tigers/leopards and dance along with a hunter a recreational art form and most commonly seen in Thrissur. The traditional Sadya is also a major part of this festival. The snake boat races are also performed during Onam Season and are very popular among people. Kerala travel packages will include visits to temples with your favorite deities so that you can take part in all the festivals and also to commemorate the Gods of the temple and see His blessings. Taking part in the major festivities of the state like Onam and Vishu will also make wonderful memories.