Kerala is undoubtedly famous for its luxuriant greenery and incredible natural grandeur. Its rich cultural and traditional heritages leaves no stone unturned in attempting to surpass the verdant opulence. One among the plethora of cultural feasts for the eyes are the temple festivals of Kerala. Some of the major one’s are as follows:
Arattu at Thiruvananthapuram
Arattu festival is a festival that is celebrated in Trivandrum in the famous Padmanabhan Temple. In Kerala, arattu festival is celebrated as a closing ceremony of a 10-day festival in Kerala. The Arattu festival in Kerala is celebrated twice a year, once in the months of October-November and one more time in the months of March-April. The festival actually refers to the procession that takes place as a closing ceremony of the 10-day festival at the temple. Read on further to know more about Arattu festival of Kerala, India.
On this occasion, the ex-Maharaja visits the temple at Trivandrum and performs certain rituals. After the rituals, a grand procession is taken out of the temple. The procession comprises of beautifully ornamented elephants with the idol of Lord mounted on the front elephant. Drummers and musicians playing musical instruments accompany these elephants. While the procession leaves the perimeter of the temple, a salute of 21 guns is given as an honor. The procession progresses slowly towards the Sanghumugham beach.
The Maharaja also accompanies the procession amidst tight security. On reaching the beach, a ceremonial dip is taken in the sea. Slowly the procession heads back to the temple thus marking the end of the 10-day festival.
The Sree Krishnaswamy temple at Ambalapuzha dedicated to Parthasarathy was established by the Chembakasserry Pooradam Thirunal-Devanarayanan Thampuran in the year 790 M.E. He offered his state to Sree Krishna and ruled the country as his regent after assuming the name of Deva Narayana.
The Arattu festival of this temple commences with the flag hoisting ceremony on the Atham day in Meenam (March-April). The important Arattu Utsavam, however, takes place on the Thiruvonam day in Meenam.
‘Velakali’ is an important feature of this festival. The famous Ambalapuzha Palpayasam (a milk pudding of exceptional sweetness) is the important offering of this temple.
The Aranmula Uthrittathi is celebrated with a ritual boat race held during the Onam festival. Legend has it that a boat carrying offerings to the Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple was under attacked by enemies. People from the neighboring areas sent their snake boats to protect it. This has now evolved into a snake boat race, presented as an offering to Lord Parthasarathy.
Attukal Pongala (also known as the Sabrimala of women) is considered the largest congregation of women in the world. Women all over the city cook their offerings and bring it to the Attukal temple. ‘Payasam’ – a sweet dish made with rice, jaggery and banana is an integral part of this offering.
An annual 10 day long celebration is held at the Parthasarathy Temple in Adoor, and the Adoor Gajamela is the highlight of it. Nine elephants in their ceremonial attire are paraded, as hundreds of visitors throng the temple gates to witness the regal spectacle.
Kuthiyottam and Kettukazhcha
The Chettikulangara Temple near Kayamkulam celebrates the Bharani Utsavam in the Malayalam month of Kumbham (February-March). The highlight of this temple festival is Kuthiyottam and Kettukazhcha. As part of the Kuthiyottam ceremony, young boys are required to fast, and are taken in a ceremonial procession to the temple to the tune of music, the beating of drums and ornamental umbrellas. For Kettukazhcha, local residents worship decorated effigies of chariots, horses and dieties and take part in a ceremonial procession.
Konganpada is celebrated in the Bhagavathy temple at Chittur in the month of Kumbhom (February-March). It is meant to commemorate the victory of the Nairs of Chittur over the militia of Konganadu (Coimbatore) which the Goddess Bhagavathy is believed to have orchestrated.
Chottanikkara Makam is an auspicious day observed at the Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Temple. The Murti of Goddess Bhagavathy is given a ritual bath, after which it is accompanied by Lord Shastha and eleven elephants to an open ground until noon. The deity is clothed in regal attire and adorned with jewels. It is also believed that prayers offered during this time will be answered.
The Ettumanoor festival is celebrated in an ancient Siva temple about 12 Km North-East of Kottayam. The arattu festival of this temple is celebrated annually in a grand fashion on the Thiruvathira day in Kumbham. Multitudes flock to the temple on the 8th and 10th day of the festival when seven and a half elephants made of gold are displayed for public view.
The Guruvayur festival begins on the day of Pushya in the month of Kumbham (February-March), and culminates with the Aarattu on the 10th day. The rituals are served to purify and energize the deity’s powers. The cultural festivities include a variety of processions, bright lights, decorative arches and non-explosive fireworks. Homes are freshly painted and buildings are decorated with lights, plantain trunks, coconut bunches and arecanuts.
Haripad Temple Festival
The Thaipooyam Festival is a one-day affair held at the Sree Subrahmanya Swamy Temple. Devotee carry kavadis (decorated wooden arches) on their shoulders and perform a ritualistic dance called Kavadiyattom as they proceed to the temple. Some devotees also pierce their cheeks with long arrows and perform a tantric dance as an offering to the gods.
The Kanathurkavu Temple in the heart of Kannur celebrates its annual festival in April each year. Thousands throng the premises to witness the Theyyattom – a dance ritual of the Goddess Mahadevi.
Kappally Kumbham Thira
The Kappally temple conducts its annual Thira festival between the 3rd and 13th days of Kumbham (February-March) every year. The 12th day is considered the most important day of the festival.
The Kodiyettu Utsavam is a festival dedicated to the Goddess Bhagavathy, celebrated in memory of the temple’s consecration. It commences on the Makayiram day in Vrischikam (November-December) and ends on the Uthram day.
Kodungallur Bharani Utsavam
The Bharani festival is well known for it’s spectacular event called kaavu theendal. For this ritual, oracles from various parts of the state arrive at Kodungalloor Bhagavathy temple. The men and women run around the temple in a trance, smiting their crowns with swords and proclaiming their communion with the Mother Goddess. The devotees strike the temple rafters with sticks and throw their offerings over the roof in to the inner quadrangle of the temple.
The historic Koodalmanickam temple situated in the Manavalassery village is an architectural masterpiece. The deity, Sree Bharatha is worshiped here and the annual festival is conducted during the month of Medom (April-May).
Kumaranalloor Thrikarthika Uthsavam
Thrikkarthika is celebrated in the month of Vrischikam (November–December). On the Karthika day, devotees visit the Udayanapuram and Thrissur Vadakkunnatha temples and present their offerings. Legend has it that the gods of these two temples where enamored with the beauty of Devi as she returned from her bath. They hopped over the compound walls to look at here, and were finally met at the walls by temple priests. So, during Karthika, puja is performed over the walls of these temples. There is also a magnificent display of lights in the evening, called Karthika Vilakku, which is the highlight of the celebrations.
Kalapathy Ratholsavam (Chariot Festival)
The Sree Viswanathaswamy Temple at Kalpathy holds an annual 7 day chariot festival, and the last three days are called the Kalpathy Ratholsavam. The 700 year old temple celebrates this festival with Vedic recitals and a massive procession of decorated temple chariots drawn through the streets by thousands of devotees.
Kuttikkol Thampuratty Theyyam
During the Kuttikkol Thampuratty Theyyam festival, the major theyyam forms of Kerala are performed amid thousands of visitors. The festival itself is a riot of colours and pageantry, making it very attractive to onlookers.
The Lokanarkavu Bhagavathy temple is situated at Memunda in North Kerala. It celebrates two festivals annually in the months of Vrischikam (November-December) and Meenam (March-April). The festival in Vrischikam is called Mandalavilakku and is the more important of the two.
Mannarsala, situated near the Sri. Subramanyaswamy temple in Haripad, is the seat of the famous temple of Nagaraja (God of Serpents). The temple itself is build in a grove and is known to have 30,000 images of snake gods. On the day of Ayilliam in the months of Kanni and Thulam (September and October), all the serpent deities in the grove and temple are taken in a procession and are offered Nurum Palum (rice flour and milk), Kuruthi (a red liquid made of turmeric and lime) and cooked rice.
The temple of Nellikulangara Bhagavathi attracts many visitors who seek to invoke the blessings of the Goddess. Their annual festival is conducted in the 20th Meenam (March-April) every year. During the festival, an image of the deity is placed on a richly attired elephant and taken on a procession. To accompany the procession, there is a live band, fireworks and a lot of pageantry.
Sharkara Bharani and Kaliyootu
The Sarkara Bhagavathy temple is situated in the Sarkara village, close to the Chirayinkeezhu railway station. This temple celebrates the Kaliyoottu festival in Kumbham and the Bharani festival in Meenam (February-March). Kaliyootu is actually a commemoration of the fight between Darika and Bhadrakali.
Sundareshwara Temple Festival
The Shri Sundareshwara Temple was founded by Shri Narayana Guru in 1916 and it’s dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple conducts an 8-day long festival in the months of March- April every year.
The Thrissur Pooram is celebrated in the Malayalam month of Medam (April-May). The 200 year old festival displays a spectacular procession of elephants and drummers for a whole 36 hours. Unlike other temple festivals, the Thrissur Pooram is celebrated by all residents, irrespective of religion, caste or community.
The Mahadeva Temple at Kottayam is located on the Thiruvakkara Hill. It is a famous Siva temple, known for its historical significance, antique heritage and sanctity. The temple conducts a 10-day long Arattu Utsavam in the 1st Meenam (March-April) which attracts hundreds and thousands of devotees.
The Thrichambaram temple is dedicated to Sree Krishna and is located in the Taliparamba village. The temple’s annual festival lasts for 14 days from 22nd Kumbaham (February-March).
Varkala Janardhana Swamy Temple Arattu
This temple’s annual 10-day long Arattu festival is celebrated in the month of Meenam (March-April). It commences with a Kodiyettu (Flag hoisting) on Karthika day and ends with the Arattu on Uthram day.
The Vaikathashtami Festival is dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva and is held during November or December at the Vaikom Mahadeva Temple. This annual celebration held at the temple is a 12 day long affair, held during the dark lunar fortnight in the Malayalam month of Vrischikam.
The Ashtami falls on the last day, and at dusk, deities from neighbouring temples are brought in a ceremonial procession. All the deities are worshipped and offered presents, and then an Arattu is performed in a pond close to the temple. The festival also features various classical dances and cultural celebrations.
Uthralikkavu Pooram is a festival held at the Shri Rudhiramahakalikav temple, situated at Wadackanchery in Thrissur district. The temple’s annual Poornam festival is held during February / March every year.
As you can see, there is no dearth of festivities in Kerala. Do plan your next Kerala trip around the festival season, and join us in the celebration.
When you plan your Kerala tour package, do consult with your tour operator. He will be able to guide you and make arrangements to visit the right festival according to the season.
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