Fairs & Festivals of Kerala

The colorful mosaic of Kerala festivals and fairs is as diverse as the land, is an expression of the spirit of celebration that is an essential part of the State. Observed with enthusiasm and gaiety, festivals are like gems, ornamenting the crown of Kerala tradition and culture. Round the year the fests keep Kerala life vibrant and interludes in the mundane affairs of life. 

The unique feature of the Aarattu Festival as celebrated at the Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram is that when the idols are taken for the holy bath, the head of the royal family of the erstwhile state of Travancore accompanies the procession. It is indeed a very grand procession that is sure to impress one with its magnificence. The idols are taken to the Shankumugham Beach and then given the purifying bath in the sea.

The festival of Attachamayam is held on the Atham day of the Malayalam month of Chingam (August/ September), at the historical town of Tripunithura, near Kochi. It is a celebration of a legendary victory of the Raja of Kochi. Pomp and colour mark the pageantry, which is replete with caparisoned elephants, varieties of folk art forms, floats and musical ensemble. This spectacular procession marks the beginning of the Onam Festival.


Aranmula Boat Race:
The Aranmula Boat Race takes place at Aranmula, India near a temple dedicated to Lord Krishna and Arjuna. Thousands of people gather on the banks of the river Pampa to watch the snake boat races. Nearly 41 snake boats or "chundan vallams" participate in the festival. The oarsmen sing traditional boat songs and wear white Mundu and turbans. The golden lace at the head of the boat, the flag and the ornamental umbrella at the center make it a show of pageantry too.


Cochin Carnival:
Cochin Carnival is held every year during the last week of December in Fort Kochi in Kerala. It is a merry making festival attended by hundreds of people. The carnival is as old as the days of the colonial rule when the Portuguese New Year revelry was held during the same time. Today, it has more of a party like atmosphere enjoyed by the youth. Games, competitions and illumination during these days give Fort Kochi a festive look. The highlight of the Carnival is the massive procession on the New Year Day. The procession is led by a caparisoned elephant and accompanied by drums and music, spectacular floats, different folk art forms, Panchavadyam and several Indian dance forms.


Easter Sunday is the third day after Good Friday. On this day the Resurrection of Jesus is celebrated. Easter is the oldest of all Christian festivals. It embodies the spirit of life for devotees, as they recall the widely believed Christian legend of the resurrection of Christ. Easter honors day and its brightness. It marks the transition from night to day, and from death to life. A time for joy and happiness epitomizing new beginnings, it rejoices at the spring harvest season.


Indira Gandhi Boat Race:
Indira Gandhi Boat Race is a grand fest on the rolling backwaters of Kochi. Conducted in the last week of December, it is a fitting finale to the Tourism Fair, which attracts travellers from all parts of the globe.The sixteen majestic snake boats racing neck to neck in gaiety and competition to the sky-rending cheers of the multitudes, is a unique sight. The coveted trophy of the race was instituted in memory of Indira Gandhi, the late Prime Minister of India.


Jagannatha Festival:
Jagannatha Festival in Kerala is a colourful eight-day festival, which is held in the Malayalam month of Kumbham (February/ March) at the Jagannatha Temple at Madathiparambu, near Thalassery in Kannur. The idol of Lord Siva, the presiding deity was installed here by the famous social reformer and philosopher, Sree Narayana Guru on 13th February, 1908. The seventh day of the festival is the most auspicious. The event highlights religious conferences participated by eminent scholars and social reformers, elephant processions, fireworks display and cultural programmes.


Malabar Mahotsavam:
Malabar Mahotsavam,a cultural festival, aims to recapture and revive the traditional Malabar Cultural glory. The concept was evolved in the background of this cultural heritage which continues to flourish through the genius of Vaikkom Mohammad Basheer, M.T, Vasudevan Nair, K.T. Mohammed, Thikkodiyan, to name only a few. The event is at Mananchira maidan (ground) in the heart of Kozhikode town from 13th to 16th January every year. The Festival is divided into many sections, namely, Classical Dance, Classical Music, Traditional and Folk arts, Drama, Literary, Ganamela, etc


Muharram is the opening month of the Hijra year. The 10th day of this month (May) is honoured by the Muslims of Kerala. As per belief, it was on this day that the Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Mohammed, and his men were slain at Karbala.It is to bemoan the martyrdom of the Imam that the Muslims observe Muharram. Fasting is an important ritual of this day.


Nehru Trophy Boat Race:
Nehru Trophy Boat Race, the annual water carnival at Punnamada Lake in Alappuzha is considered as the biggest snake boat race in the world. The colourful boat pageantry, which precedes the boat race, is a marvelous treat to the onlookers. The snake boats with 100 to 120 oarsmen plough the waters to the tune of the legendary songs. Jawaharlal Nehru who was enthralled by the charm and gaiety of the water carnival instituted the Nehru Trophy.