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Festivals of Kerala

Aaranmula Boat Race

Keralites are addicted to festivities. Their philosophy is – “Life is a celebration”. Truly, there is no dearth of festivals in the state. These colourful and vibrant festivals are yet another attractions of Kerala. Thee are as diverse as the land and waterways of Kerala. An expression of the spirit of celebration is actually an essential part of the state. Packed with fun and excitement.

Some of the major festivals of Kerala are:

Aaranmula Boat Race

This annual boat race in August/September is basically a part of the Aaranmula Temple festival. River Pamba serves as the main venue to watch an imposing cluster of snake boats called 'Palliyodams'. These 100 feet long boats are festooned with silk and gold spangled umbrellas, and are manned by a crew of more than 100 men.

Cochin Carnival

Fort Kochi in Kerala organizes this merry making feast during the last week of every year. The festival/carnival dates back to the Portuguese rule in Kerala. This youth festival is specially meant for partying. Interesting games, competitions etc. are the main attractions of Cochin Carnival. A huge procession, led by a caparisoned elephant, is also taken on the New Year day. One can see various folk art forms, Panchavadyam and north Indian dances during the procession.


Onam, the harvest festival, is the most popular festival of Kerala and is a part of the cultural repertoire of every Keralite. This ten-day festival falls in August-September and people make offerings to Gods like the Sun, Water, Earth etc. for prosperity. The festival features floral decorations, elephant processions, classical and folk dance performances, music recitals, and various water carnivals.

Sabarimala Festival

Celebrated in the honour of Lord Ayyappa, the festival is organized in the holy town of Sabarimala (atop the rugged hills of the Western Ghats). The festival features two main rituals: the Mandal Puja and the Makara Sankranti Puja, which are celebrated from November to mid-January.

Nehru Trophy Boat Race

The Punnamada Backwaters of Alappuzha district draw lakhs of visitors and adventure enthusiasts on the second Saturday of August. They gather here to enjoy the thrilling boat race named after the late Prime Minister of India, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru. Huge snake boats or 'Chundans' are manned by about 100 professionals.

Malabar Mahotsavam

This festival showcases the centuries old rich cultural heritage of Kerala. Celebrated at Mananchira Maidan in Kozhikode from 13th to 16th January every year, the festival is known for musical concerts, classical dances like Kathakali, Mohiniyattom, Ottanthullal etc. and several ritual art forms like Koothu, Thewam and Thira. Amazing fireworks are another attractions of the festival.

Jagannatha Festival

This eight day festival is celebrated at the Jagannatha Temple, near Kannur, in the Malayalam month of Kumbham (February/ March). During the festival, the temple witnesses a huge gathering of eminent scholars and social reformers. Apart from that, one can see wonderful elephant processions, fireworks and cultural programmes.


This festival signifies the legendary victory of the Raja of Kochi. It is celebrated on the Atham day of the Malayalam month of Chingam (August/ September) at Tripunithura, near Kochi. The festival is marked by caparisoned elephants, varieties of folk art forms, floats and musical ensembles.

Thrissur Pooram

The regaining deity during this festival is Lord Shiva. This is an ancient festival of the state of Kerala, and is celebrated according to the nakshatras or star in the Hindu panchangam. Celebrated at Thekinkadu Maidan at Thrissur in the month of May, the festival showcases spectacular fireworks. The pageant of 30 caparisoned elephants assembled in the precincts of the Vadakumnathan temple is the major attraction. Apart from that, Kudamattam (changing of umbrella from hands to hands), Chendamelain (kind of drums) and Panchavadyam (five typical instruments played) are the most fascinating features of the festival.

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