Aanayottam is festival at Guruvayoor and Thiruvarpu temples.
Aanayottam at Guruvayoor is conducted during the month of
Kumbham, which marks the beginning of temple festival.
The race of elephant will be conducted on the occasion.
The race will be from Manjulal at the east gate of Guruvayoor
to the main entrance of the temple. Later the elephants
will be taken to inside of the temple and after running
three rounds, the elephant that touches the kodimaram
(flag post) will be declared as the winner. In Thruvarpu
temple, Aanayottam was conducted in the month of
Medam to mark the beginning of festival.
procession starts from
Padmanabha Swami temple at Thiruvananthapuram
procession at Thiruvananthapuram
participating in arat procession
The closing ceremony of temple festival is known as Arat.
The idol of the god is taken in festive procession and dipped
in the river, pond or sea. The people also dip themselves
with the idol. The priests and followers take part in the
function. In most temples of Kerala Arat is performed
at the end of the temple festival. Arts at Guruvayoor Sri
Krishna Temple in the month of Kumbham and Sri Padmanabha
Swami Temple at Thiruvananthapuram are very famous. At the
Sri.Padmanabha Swami Temple, there will be two festivals
in a year. They are Alpasi celebrations in the month
of Thulam (October-November) and Painkuni
celebrations in Meenam (March-April). Arat is performed
in a great festive mood on both the occasions. When the
Arat of other temples were conducted in rivers or ponds,
arat of Sri Padmanabha Swami temple is conducted in the
Arabian Sea at Shanghumughom.
Pooram is known as the pooram of poorams.
It is the festival of Gods in central Kerala.
Peruva(ma)nam was one of the sixty four gramas
(villages) of Kerala established by Parasurama.
The festival of the Irattayappan temple of
Peruva(ma)nam last for 28 days beginning
from the Uthram day of Kumbham (February-March)
to Uthram day of Meenam (March-April).
Peruvanam pooram was the Valiyavilakku
and Arattupuzha pooram was the Arattuvilakku.
It was in AD 583 that the Peruva(ma)nam and
Arattupuzha poorams began. Hence they are as old
as 1400 years. The famous Thrissur Pooram began
only 200 years ago.
(birth day of Lord Krishna)
day in the month of Chingam (August-September)
when ‘Ashtami’ and ‘Rohini’ comes together is known
as Ashtamirohini. This is birthday of Lord Krishna.
It is also known as ‘Janmashtami’. Special poojas,
functions were conducted in the temples of Lord
held at Thrikkakkara
festival was organised once by the Kochi Raja and Zamorines
of Kozikode in connection with the Atham during the
month of Chingam. When Onam began to be celebrated
as a national festival under the auspicious of the Government
during 1961, the Athachamayam festival of Kochi Maharaja
came to an end. Athachamayam of Zamorin was stopped long
ago. The scholars have different views on the origin of
Athachamayam. In the past there was a festival lasting
for 28 days starting from the Thiruvonam day of Karkidakom
(July-August) to the Thiruvonam day of Chingam
(August-September) was conducted at Trikkakkara temple.
The last ten days of this festival beginning from Atham
to Thiruvonam was a grand mela. During these 10
days, the Chera Emperor and his dependant kings and landlords
came to Trikkakkara temple and took part in the festival.
Another story told is that Mahabali who once ruled the country
with Thrikkakkara as his capital. To respect him, the Rajas
of Kerala came to Trikkakkara and celebrated Onam. Their
journey to Trikkakkara came to be known as Athachamayam.
A third version is that this is a festival organised to
welcome Mahabali throughout the country. Onam probably is
a festival of wealth and plenty. With the exit of Karkidakom,
and the long period of South West Monsoon season, Chingom
brings prosperity and plenty to the country. The Kochi
Maharaja who was very particular in the welfare of his subjects
used to visit the Thrikkakkara during this month. Athachamayam
was celebrated in memory of this event.
Pongala is an offering made at Attukal Bhagavathy Temple
of Thiruvananthapuram. This offering can be made on all
days. But offerings on Sunday, Tuesday and Friday are more
important. The most auspicious pongala is performed
on the ninth day of the festival conducted during the month
Kumbhom (February-March). Rice, jaggery, coconut
are to be handed over to the temple priest who will prepare
a special recipe out these materials and perform pongala.
This is the procedure in ordinary days. During the festival
day, women can themselves prepare and offer the pongala.
For this, they should take special vratha (penance)
and cook the pongala in the temple premises itself.
The pongala function starts from early morning itself.
After taking bath they will undertake the cooking of pongala
with their minds all in praise of Attukal Ambika (the Goddess).
At about 12 Noon the fire will be lit in the temple kitchen.
Then crackers will be burst and drumbeats will sound. On
hearing this, women will start preparing the pongala.
At about four O’ clock the temple priest brings the holy
water and by using the areca nut inflorescence the holy
water will be sprayed in all pongala. When the holy
water sprayed, this will become a part of the offering made
to Attukal Ambika. After this function, they will carry
the pongala returned to their homes. It is believed that
Attukal is the resting place of Kannaki, the great heroine
of Chilapathykaram. After punishing the Pandya Rajah,
who killed her husband, Kannaki proceeded to Kodungallor.
On the way she halted at Attukal for a while. Knowing the
arrival of Kannaki, the people of Attukal welcomed her by
offering pongala. The famous ‘Attukal Pongala’ is
celebrated in memory of Kannaki’s visit to Attukal.
The festival of Cherthala Devi temple is known
as Cherthala Pooram. This begins on the Makahyiram
day of the month Meenom and lasts till the Uthram
day. It is also known as Poorolsavam. In reality,
the pooram is celebrated only one day ie on the pooram
day (asterism star). But the whole festival days are known
as the period of pooram.
is the pooram festival of Chinakathurkavu of Palappuram
near Ottappalam. The speciality of the pooram is that all
types of Hindus from the rich to the poor without caste
and creed attend the pooram and make it grand. The Pulaya
community perform Kalakali, the Panar perform
Vellattu, Mannan presents Poothanthira,
Parayar brings Kuthira and Komaram,
Mudaliyar community perform Therkali, Thandan
presents Thattikoothu etc. This is a typical example
of communal harmony prevailing in Kerala.
is celebrated in memory of the killing of Narakasura
by Lord Sri Krishna. It is celebrated in the month
of Thulam (October-November). The oil bath
of early morning, preparation of different types
of sweets, fire works are some of the special features
Garudan Thookam is a celebrative offering made in the
Bhagavathy temples of central Kerala. A person dressed
as Garudan (kite) will be tied on a hanging rope and the
procession taking him move around the temple with drumbeats
in a festive mood.
(consecration of tender coconut)
is an offering of Thiyya community during the festival
of Kottiyoor Siva temple in Kannur district. There are two
temples here; Akkarakottiyoor and Ikkarakottiyoor.
Both these temples are located in dense forest. The festival
starts on the Chothi day of Edava (May-June)
month with Neyyattam. The festival lasts for 28 days.
The temple opens only during this month and all the remaining
months it is kept closed. People after taking penance for
41 days reaches the temple with tender coconuts. The priest
cut the coconuts and consecrates the sweet water to the
Shivalinga idol. It takes almost two days to complete the
consecration. The festival ends with the ritual thirukalasom.
Kalpathy Sree Viswanatha Temple is a temple, which established
some 700 years ago. The temple is situated in Palakkad District.
Kalpathy Ratholsavam is a spectacular festival. Procession
of beautifully decorated temple chariots drawn through the
streets by thousands of devotees during the last three days
of annual festival, which lasts for seven days is the major
attraction of the festival.
festival organised in the Thrikkarthika day
during Vrichikam (October-November) in some
part of Kerala. It is the birthday of Lord Subramonya.
Special offerings and celebrations will be held
on the day in Subramonya temples. On the day several
lights will be let in small earthen vessels known
as chirathu during dusk in temples and houses.
The sight of lights from a number of small vessels
is really a fascinating. In South Kerala, torches
made of coconut leaves will be lit and planted in
paddy fields on this day. It is also a celebration
related to Mahalakshmi.
is also known as ‘Kuthirakettu’. It is a major celebration
in the temple festivals of Chettikulangara, Nilamperoor,
Oachira, Pandalam and Mavelikkara of erstwhile Travancore.
The effigy of chariot, horse, swan, bull, ‘Pancha Pandavas’,
‘Hanuman’ etc. will be brought as ‘Kettulkazcha’ in many
places. Chettikulangara Kettukazcha is a festival conducted
in Chettikulangara Devi Temple at Onattukara near Kayamkulam
on the day of Bharani in Kumbhom (February-March).
Kuthiyottam is another important offering of the
Thalapoli & Bharani
The Thalapoli festival conducted in the Kodungallur Bhagavathy
temple from 1st to 4th Makaram (January-February).
Kodungallur Bharani is celebrated on the Bharani day
of Meenam (March-April) month. But the festival
is conducted on the previous day. This is known as Aswathy
Kavutheendal. After this, the temple will be closed
for seven days. No festival will be there in the temple
on the Meena Bharani day. The festival period is
from the Bharani day in Kumbham to Aswathy
day in Meenom. Devotees from far off places throng
the temple in large numbers during the festival days.
is a celebration in Chittoor of Palakkad District
every year in memory of the victory of the Nairs
over the conquerors of Chittoor who came from Kongunadu
(Salem-Coimbatore area east to Chittoor) with
the help of Goddess Bhagavathy. The battle was held
on a Monday after the new moon day and ended within
24 hours. The incidence that happened within 24
hours are now presented in 24 days.
Annual festival of Machattu Thiruvanikkavu in
the Thrissur district is known as Machattu Mamangom. It
is celebrated in the month of Kumbham (February-March).
People from each village around Machad reach to the temple
with Mamangakuthira (dummy horses) and perform kuthirakali
(horse play). At the end of festival there will be display
Mannarassala Ayilyam is a famous festival of Mannarasala
Nagaraja Temple near Harippad in Alappuzha District. It
is conducted on the Ayilyam day of the month of Kanni
(September-October). Mannarassala is famous for snake
worship and pooja. Ayilyam is the day of Sarpas
(snakes). The main priestess of the temple is the Valiyamma
(brahmachari grand mother) who will be on vrutha for
poojas. The procession with Nagaraja (king of snakes)
idol from Valiya Ara (big room) to the temple and
back is main function of the celebrations
is celebrated in the month of Kanni (September-October)
every year when sun reaches very near to the middle
line of earth. It starts from Pradhama to
nine days. Kali (Durga) will be worshipped for
the first three days, Lakshmi for the next three
days and Saraswathy for the last three days. The
last three days are known as Durgashtami, Mahanavami
and Vijayadashami days. On Durgashtami day, books
and tools are kept in front of Saraswathy, the patron
Goddess of the art and learning, and worshipped.
Ayudhapooja (Worship of tools) is also a function
organized during Navarathri. The pooja will start
on the day of Durgashtami and end on Vijayadashami
day. Vijayadashami is also famous for the initiation
of children to study of alphabets (vidyarambhom)
and study and work resume on the day. Akshara
(words or letters) pooja is a function
performed on Vijayadashami day. On that day members
of the family will take their bath and sit in a
hall. A nilavilakku (holy lamp) will be lit
before them. White sand will be spread in front
of each person. The head of the family will chant
prayer and other will repeat. After that, each
and every one will write Harisree Ganapathaye
Namaha; Aviknamasthu in the sand before them
followed by vowels and consonants. After writing,
the sand is removed and placed on housetop. Instead
of sand, the practice of using rice in silver vessels
and then writing letters is also prevalent. The
custom of writing letters on paper and tearing of
it and placing on housetop is also there.
The annual festival held at Nellikulangara temple
at Nenmara (Palakkad District) during the month of Meenam
(March-April) is famous as Nenmara-Vallangi Vela. The
festival starts from the 1st to 20th Meenam. Koorayidal,
erection of flag mast, Kummatty, Karivela, Andivela,
and Vela are the functions of the festival. The festival
is in memory of the killing of Darika by Kali (Durga). People
from Nenmara village perform Andivela and Vallangi
village people present Thalapoli before the deity.
Displays of fireworks, Panchavadyam, procession are other
attractions of the festival. The pyrotechnics is very famous
and consider equal to that of Thrissur Pooram.
agricultural festival celebrated in Karkidakom (July-August)
after the harvest of Virippu. It is also
known as Illamnira, Nirapooja etc. Illamnira
at Guruvayur temple is famous.
is a place in the Karunagapplly Taluk of Kollam Distict.
In the Parabrahma Temple of Ochira every year during the
month of Edvavam-Mithunam (May-June to June-July)
a festival is conducted for 28 days. Ochirakkali is a
physical exercise conducted on the 1st and 2nd of Midhunam
to mark the close of the temple festival. Ochira
Panthrandu Vilakku is also famous. It is conducted
for 12 days from the first of Vrichikom (November-December)
every year. This is also a festival like Ochirakali.
Many devotees assemble in front of the temple. Temporary
sheds will be constructed for their stay during the period.
is the national festival of Kerala. This festival is celebrated
on the Thiruvonam day in Chingam, the first
month of Malayalam Era. Onam is a harvest festival as well
as a festival of flowers. The festival for 10 days beginning
from ‘Atham’ day to ‘Thiruvonam’ day will extend further
to culminates with the Aranmula Uthrattathi Vallamkali.
According to the legend Mahabali, a great emperor in olden
days, ruled Kerala. During his regime there was peace and
prosperity everywhere. It is believed that Mahabali visits
his old subjects during Thiruvonam day after being
sent to the ‘Pathala’ (hell or purgatory) by Vamana. The
idol of Thrikkakkara temple is that of Vamana. Thrikkakkara
Appan’s idol is placed in front of houses during Onam days
in a beautifully decorated floral bed. Whatever be the
legend, Onam is an excellent imagination of a golden era
that lost forever or a sweet dream of a model world yet
to emerge. There are differences of opinion among historians
about the date of start of Onam festival. William Logon
opined that Onam is celebrated since 825 AD. Attur Krishna
Pisharody says that Onam celebration commenced between 620
and 670 AD. There are mentions about Onam festival in Unnuneeli
Sandesham, which is believed to have written in 14th
century. Extreme happiness and joy can be observed everywhere
during the onam days. Making beautiful pookalams
(floral carpets) in front of houses, placing of Thrikkakara
Appan, and serving feast are done every day. On the day
of Thiruvonam the festival reaches its zenith. First
Onam is on the Uthradam day. On that day the Onam
offerings of landless labourers, leasers, carpenter and
blacksmith will fill the house of Jenmi (landlords).
The eldest member of the family presents Onappudava (new
cloths) to the members. Ladies and children will swing in
oonjals. Boys worship Onathappam (Thrikkaka Appan). Those
who reside outside country will reach their homes on onam
days. Onam feast will be served every day. Even the poor
people will have their Onam meals on Thiruvonam day.
After having feast people perform various plays. Women
play ‘kaikottikkali’. Children play with ‘Onavillu’.
Boys play ‘Thalappanth’ using balls. Elders play
‘Kambithayam’ and card games etc. ‘Onathallu’
(a play of two teams by beating each other with hand) is
common in Palakkad and Valluvanad areas. Pulikali
and Kummatty are also performed during Onam days.
Plays like ‘Thali-peeli’, ‘Kannanamunnikkali’, ‘Thumbithullal’
are meant for girls. The most colorful event during Onam
holidays is ‘Vallamkali’ (boat race).
are two temples at Orkkatteri near Vadakara. The idol
of the first temple is that of Kottiyoorappan and the
other is that of Kodungalluramma. The festival of these
two temples are conducted together which is known as Orkkatteri
Thalappoli. It starts from 12 of Makaram (December-January)
and lasts for four days. People belonging to all castes
and communities participate in the festival.
is a harvest festival. It falls on the Makara Sankranthy
day on which the sun transfers from Dhanu rashi
to Makaram rashi (from one house of zodiac to another).
communities of Tamil and Telugu origin celebrate it in
Kerala. They observe two types of Pongals - Thaipongal
and Mattupongal. Thaipongal is the harvest festival.
It is celebrated in Makaram (January-February). It is
famous in the areas adjacent to Tamil Nadu. On Thaipongal,
they prepare a special recipe out of new rice, milk and
sugar in new pots and offer to their deities. The animals
adorned with flowers and colours were taken on a procession
to the streets on the Mattupongal day. On both
days, sweets are prepared and exchanged.
festival is celebrated during the month of Kumbam
(January-February). In Aluva it is celebrated in great
splendor at the sandy banks of Periyar River. The festival
at Gokarnam, Aluva, Vaikom, Ettumanoor and Thali are very
famous. This is the day when Lord Siva drank Kalakooda,
the poison, to protect the whole world from disaster.
On Shivaratri, Shiva, Parvati, and Ganesha are worshipped
between midnight and sunrise. Sivarathri is also celebrated
with great religious fervors at Thripangot, Kallkulangara,
Thrissur, Thrikandiyur, Vaikom, Thirunakkara and Attappady
at Sivarathri festival at the bank of
Aluva Periyar River
festival conducted in Bhagavathy temples
once in a year. Spinsters will walk round the temple
with the vessel containing the areca nut flower
bunch, a portion of coconut and lit wick in their
hands. The aim of Thalappoli is to gain a good
forms of Thiruvathira dance
– a ritual connected with thiruvathira
The Thiruvathira festival falls on the asterism day of Thiruvathira
in the Malayalam month of Dhanu (December-January).
The origin of the festival is obscure. It is believed that
Thiruvathira is the birthday of God Siva. Women observe
this festival for a long and prosperous married life. They
get up early in the morning and take bath known as thudichukuli
(taking bath in a pond or river by splashing water at each
other and singing songs) on seven days commencing form the
Aswathi day and worship Lord Siva. Thiruvathira is a day
of fasting and the women avoid rice meal on that day, but
only take preparations of kuva (arrowroot) or chama
(Panicum milicceum) or wheat. Other items of their
food include plantain fruits, tender coconuts, etc. They
also chew betel and redden their lips. An image of Siva
is placed at the central courtyard of the houses and flowers,
plantains and jaggery are offered to the deity. Another
customary offering to the Lord Siva is the Ettangadi
Nivedyam. Oonjalattom (swinging on swing) is
one of the items of amusement. At night the women perform
folk dance known as Thiruvathirakkali or Kaikottikkali.
They stand in a circle around Nilavilakku (lighted bell
metal lamp) and dance according to the rhythm of the songs
that they sing with clapping of their hands. The songs are
known as Thiruvathirakali pattukal that including
the works of Irayimman Thampi, Kunjukutty Thankacy etc.
There is a custom called Pathirappoochoodal. It is
an important function connected with Thiruvathira. At Thiruvathira
midnight, after taking bath, women used to wear ‘dashapushpam’
(a flower). The first Thiruvathira coming after the marriage
of a girl is known as Puthen Thiruvathira or Poothiruvathira
and it is celebrated on a grand scale. Consequent on
the elimination of matrilineal system, Thiruvathira festival
as well as the customs related to it is also vanishing gradually.
Pooram is known as the Mamangam (great festival)
of middle Kerala. It is celebrated in the premises
of Sri Vadkkunatha Temple of Thrissur. This is
the most famous temple festival of Kerala. Pooram
comes every year in the month of Medom (April-May).
Pooram is a colourful ceremony accompanied by the
grand Kudamattom and Ilanhithara Melam.
Lakhs and lakhs of people throng the Thekkinkadu
Maidan (ground) to witness the famous Thrissur Pooram.
Though the pooram festival lasts for 36 hours only
(pooram day and up to next day noon), it is the
fulfillment of the efforts of people for one year.
Thrissur Pooram is a conclave of Bhagavathys (Goddesses)
from the temples of Ayyanthole, Chembukkavu, Kuttoor,
Neythalakkavu, Choorakkottukavu, Karamukku, Lalur,Thiruvambady,
Paramekkavu and the Sastha (God) of Kanimangalam.
Among them, Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu Bhagavathys
have prominence. Madathil Varavu (the procession
of Thiruvambady Bhagavathy) and Purappad
(the procession of Paramekkavu Bhagavathy), Ilanjithara
Melam (panchavadyam- percussion of drums
and wind musical instruments) and Vedikettu (fire
works) are the four important functions of Thrissur
is celebrated on the pooyam day of Makaram (January-February).
It is the birthday of Lord Subramanya. It is very important
in Subramanya Temples. Kavadiyattom and other celebrations
The practice of presenting banana bunches to Lord Krishna
at the Guruvayur Temple on the Thiruvonam day of Chingam
(August-September). The Melsanthi (Main Priest)
has the right to place the first bunch in a plantain leaf
applied with rice powder paste. After that the devotees
can place their offerings as Uthradakazcha.
Uthraseeveli is a festival of Thiruvalla Sreevallabha
Temple conducted on the Uthram asterism day of Meenam
(March-April). The Bhagavathies from the near temples will
proceed to the Thiruvalla Sreevallabha Temple on the eighth
day of the festival falling on Uthram day. It is believed
that these Bhagavathies were the sisters of Sreevallabhan.
Their entries to the Sreevallabha Temple is through the
north gate which is opened only once in a year to permit
their entry. The gate will be closed immediately on their
retreat. It is believed hat all the sins will disappear
on seeing and praying on Uthraseeveli. It is also believed
that the thirty-three crores of Devas (Gods) will array
in the sky to witness the festival.
At the Siva temple at Vaikom, two ashtami festivals
are celebrated. The first is in the month of Vrichikom
(November-December) and the second in Kumbhom (February-March).
It is celebrated for 12 days. Kharan consecrated
three Sivalingas and one of them was at Vaikom, in Ernakulam
District. It is known as ‘Vaikathappan’. The other two
are at Kaduthuruthi and Ettumanoor. A sanyasi (hermit)
known as Vyakarapadamuni worshipped Vaikathappan and plunged
into deep meditation. He got the divine vision of Lord
Shiva on the Astami day of the month Vrichikom (November-December)
and assured that he would give darshan (appearance) to the
devotees on that particular day. In course of time the
place where the sanyasi sat in deep meditation came to be
known as Vaikom. The Ashtami day of Vrichikom came
to be known as ‘Vaikathashtami’. Those days became the
festival days of Vaikom Temple.
Parambu at Thirur
is considered as Akshara pooja (words or letters),
when children are expected to start formal education by
writing letters. Akshara pooja is performed on
Vijayadashami day. Heavy rush is experienced for Vidyarambhom
function at Thunchan Parambu at Thirur, Chittoor
Thunchan Madam (the samadhi place of Thunchathu
Ezhuthachan), Sree Mookambika Temple at Kollur (Near Mangalore),
Thiruvallakkavu near Thrissur, Sarawathy Temple, Panachikkad
near Kottyam. Not only Hindus, but people belonging to
other religions also used to attend Viyarambhom function.
Christians used to write Daivom Thunakkuka (God
help us) instead of Hari Sri Ganapathaye Namaha; Aviknamasthu.
Muslims write verses from Qu’ran on the right hand palm
with black ink on a day before Bakrid festival.
Kanikonna (Cassiafistula) |
is an important festival of Kerala celebrated in the month
of Medam (April), just before the onset of south-west
monsoon. This is also a festival related to agriculture.
It denotes the inseparable relationship between man and
soil. Astrologically, the Vishu day has much importance.
It is on this day that the sun rises right in the east.
Hours of day and night are equal (exactly 12 hours) on
is believed that the vishu day is theNew
Year day of ‘Kalivarsha’. The agricultural operations
start with Vishu day onwards. The first auspicious day
to plough land will also be decided on Vishu day. The
‘Vishu’ celebrations start with ‘kani’, which will
be arranged in each home to be seen by all members of
the family in the early morning. ‘Vishukani’ is
a small exhibition of natural resources of Kerala. It
is prepared with rice, cotton cloth, metals like gold
and silver, cucumber, mango, jackfruit, banana, tailed
mirror, flowers of ‘Kanikonna’,
Indian Laburnum (Cassia fistula). These are exhibited
in an Uruli (a flat brass vessel) in front of Lord
Krishna with a holy lamp lit in front of these items.
The sight of ‘Vishukani’ immediately after awakening
from a sound sleep in the early morning of the Vishu day
remembers us the preciousness of natural resources and
the necessity of its preservation. After seeing ‘Vishukkani’,
the elder member of the family gives ‘Vishukaineetam’
(giving coins as prize) to children. Grand feast at noon
and cracking of fire works at night are indispensable
parts of Vishu celebration.