FESTIVALS OF KERALA

Festivals and fairs of Kerala are steeped into thousands of years old history, culture and seasonal changes. The festivals, as in other parts of India, are celebrated lively with religious rituals and traditions ingrained. Fairs and festivals of Kerala add colours to Kerala tourism. Festivals and fairs of Kerala are splendid means to pass on rich legacy of traditions to forthcoming generations.

Vishu (March/April): This is the Malayali New Year's Day. Everything wears a bright aspect. Gifts are exchanged. The custom is that elders give cash presents to dependents and relatives younger to them. This is called "Kyeneettam"(extending the hands)

Pooram (April/May): It is celebrated with a great enthusiasm in the Vadakkunathan Temple at Trichur, where thousands of peoples assemble on the day. An elephant processions and a beautiful display of pyrotechnics are the important features of the festivals.

Onam (August/September): This major festival of Kerala is celebrated against a setting of lush green vegetations. This picturesque harvest festival gives the people of Kerala four days of colour feasting, boat race, song and dance.

According to a legend Onam is celebrated to welcome from eternal exile the sprite of the pious king Mahabali and to assure him that his people are happy and wish him well.

At Trichur or Thrissur, caparisoned elephant take part in a spectacular procession. A magnificent display of fireworks makes the end of the festival here. At Shoranur, appreciative crowds gather on the green where colorfully dressed Kathakali dance reenact the well-loved stories of the epic heroes and virtuous women.

On the eve of Thiruonam, the second and most important day of the festival, king Mahabali is supposed to visit his kingdom. Every home is bright and shining in preparations for the royal visit. No works is done after midnight. Visits are exchanged and lengths of auspicious saffron clothes are presented by friends to one another.

The Vallumkali (both race) is one of the main attractions of Onam, and is best seen at Aranmulai and Kottayam. About a hundred oarsmen row huge and graceful ode (boats). Oars dip and flash to the rhythm of drums and cymbals in each boat.

The songs are generally typical in character and concern people well known in Malabar. Above each boat gleam scarlet silk umbrellas: their number denotes the affluence of the family owning the boat. Gold coins and tassels hang from the umbrella.

In the evening, pretty girls perform the Kyekottikali (the clapping dance) in the open, dancing around the traditional brass lamp. Intricate patterns of flows flower carpet for the dance.



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