Kerala is an enchanting destination with a host of wonderful tourist attractions. It is not only blessed with sheer natural beauty but it also takes pride in its rich cultural heritage, which beautifully reflects in its fairs and festivals. Celebrated with great enthusiasm and joy, the fairs and festivals of Kerala are marked by interesting cultural activities and rituals. Kerala fairs and festivals will transport you to a colorful world where you can enjoy to the core.
One of the most significant festivals of Kerala, Onam is a wonderful festival celebrated for 10 days. It is a harvest festival celebrated annually in the month of August/September with great verve and fervour. King Mahabali, the mythological king, is worshipped during the festival. This Kerala festival celebrates the premier era of the mythical demon king Mahabali as well, under whose reign Kerala experienced ceaseless leading opulence. According to mythology, Mahabali, the demon king, used to be embellished by his courtiers for his gallantry and contributions. It is believed that King Mahabali visits his followers during the Onam festival.
One of the most exciting elements in this festival is the Kerala snake boat race, which is held on the mesmerizing backwaters of Kerala. This event attracts many visitors as it is high on entertainment, thrill and excitement. Many a participant row the sleek and tastefully designed snaked shaped long boats. Each team contains several participants.
During this Kerala festival houses are scrubbed and cleaned, new clothes are purchased and huge Kolam (floral designs) are made in front of the house to welcome the celebrated king. They also visit the temples and perform traditional dances like Thiruvathirakali and Thumbi Tullal. People start making great preparations days prior to the occasion, to usher a fervent welcome to the noble king. For ten days there is much joyfulness and treats all over the state
Vallamkali Boat Race
To commemorate the famous Onam festival people organize boat races which fill the air of Kerala with vigour, enthusiasm and entertainment. The Vallamkali boat race held on the second Saturday of August each year at Alappuzha is the world's largest team sport. A number of long, sleek boats called Chundans (Snake boats), as their extremely adorned stems bear a resemblance to the hood of a cobra, and participate in the race. They are operated by a well synchronized crew of a hundred oarsmen making eighty to ninety strokes a minute to the cadenced beat of the helmsmen and the singers standing at the centre of the boat.
Nehru Trophy Boat Race Kerala
Nehru Trophy Boat Race is the most happening boat race in Kerala named after the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. This boat race is really a tough competition and the intense competition is for the priceless trophy which was introduced by the late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1952. Synonymous with adventure, thrill and entertainment, the boat race attracts spectators from far and wide.
The arresting backwaters in Alleppey is the place where the boat race is celebrated in the month of August every year. Each team participating in the race has around 100 participants who row the boat in perfect synchronization. The sight of the boats during the competition is awesome. No wonder a great deal of hard work and talent is required for such a competition. Before the inception of the race, a colorful water parade is held, which in itself is a great attraction. This race hauls more than ten thousand spectators from every nook and corner of the state.
Rajiv Gandhi Boat Race
The charm of the bewitching backwaters of Alappuzha increases manifold during the Rajiv Gandhi Boat Race. It is held two weeks after the Nehru Trophy Boat Race. As clear from the name itself the race is named after the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. The boat race offers enjoyment, thrill and fun in plenty.
Indira Gandhi Boat Race
This is another boat race of Kerala, which is a part of the festivities. The venue for this boat race is the dazzling backwaters of Kochi, a mesmerizing town in the state. Playing a significant role in Kerala Tourism, this boat race involves around 16 snake boats with hundreds of participants.
Makar Sankranti is one of the most auspicious days for the Hindus, and is celebrated in almost all parts of the country in myriad cultural forms, with great devotion, fervour and gaiety. Thousands of people take a dip in places like Ganga Sagar and Prayag and pray to Lord Sun. It is celebrated with pomp in southern parts of the country like Kerala as Pongal.
The 40 days anushthana by the devotees of Ayyappa ends on this day in Sabarimala with a big festival in Kerala. Pongal is celebrated for four days as Bhogi Pongal, Thai Pongal, Mattu Pongal and Kanum Pongal. Each day of Pongal has its own significance and rituals. Pongal is celebrated in the month of January.
Elephant Festival / Thrissur Pooram
One of Kerala's most attractive and colourful temple festivals is the Thrissur Pooram. Thrissur Pooram attracts large number of devotees and spectators from all parts of the state, country and other parts of the world as well. Celebrated in Medom (April-May), this colorful festival of Kerala comprises of processions of richly decorated elephants from various neighboring temples to the Vadakumnathan temple. A significant event for its devotees is the most impressive processions of those from the Krishna Temple at Thiruvambadi and the Devi Temple at Paramekkavu.
Sakthan Thampuran, the Maharaja of the former Kochi State was the pioneer of this festival in the late eighteenth century. Possibly there is no other festival in Kerala that draws such an incredible number of people to a single event. However Vadakkunnathan is a sheer spectator at this festival, lending its premises and grounds for the great event.
The Pooram festival is also well known for the majestic display of fireworks. The Pooram Festival is celebrated by two rival groups representing the two divisions of Thrissur Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi contesting with each other in making the display of fireworks splendor and more colourful. Each group is allowed to display a maximum of fifteen elephants and all efforts are made by each party to secure the best elephants in South India and the most artistic umbrellas, several kinds of which are raised on the elephants during the display.
The images of the deities from all temples of the village are taken on elephants to the main temple. The celebration starts in the early hours of the morning and last till the break of dawn, the following day.
The fairs and festivals of Kerala add more charm and delight to Kerala tour of tourists who come here from across the world.