Published On: Thu, Mar 9th, 2017

The temple festivals that light up Kerala | Times of India

From Trivandrum to Kasaragod, each district has a festival that they can boast of in terms of the heritage, the celebrations and the cultural identity that it promulgates.

Chettikulangara Bharani

Month: MARCH
A colourful offering to the presiding deity by people from 13 areas adjacent to the temple, consisting of chariots aka theru, effigies of Hanuman, Panchali, Bhima and horses and bulls. The fest is expected to be soon included in the UNESCO list on Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Highlight: The assemblage is spread over several kilometres around the temple and consists of epic characters, a 100-feet tall horse and bull edifices lined up in style. Each of the chariots is drawn by around 500 people and accompanied by cymbals and percussionists to the temple.
Temples to visit nearby:
– Mannarsala Temple
– Chakkulathukavu Temple

Attukal Pongala

Attukal Bhagavathi Temple is called the Sabarimala of women, and hosts the largest congregation of women devotees for its famed 10-day festival. On the ninth day, women from across the world cook an offering of rice
porridge for the deity.
Highlight: The women-only ritual in which earthen hearths are lined up across the city, have the women cooking the sweet offering for the Bhagavati.
Temples to
visit nearby:
– Pazhavangadi Ganapathi Temple
– Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple

Thrissur Pooram

Month: April
Considered the most spectacular festival in South India, Thrissur Pooram is the pride of every Malayali. Held in the premises of the famous Vadakkumnathan Temple, the 300-year-old festival marks a competition between two adjacent temples — Paramekkavu Bhagavathi Temple and Thiruvambadi Sri Krishna Temple. It’s a matter of pride for the two temples to see who can showcase the most spectacular fireworks, decorative umbrellas and caparisoned elephants.
HIGHLIGHT: The kudamattom ceremony sees the unveiling of a set of newly designed decorative umbrellas every year together with , ornamental fans made of peacock feathers (Aalavattom) and royal fan (Venchamaram). This is followed by the ilanjithara melam, the performance of more than 200 percussion artistes, and as the sun sets, an amazing display of pyrotechnics during the vedikettu light up the sky.
Temples to visit nearby:
– Guruvayoor Temple r Sree Ruthira Mahakalikavu Temple

Kottiyoor Mahotsavam

Month: May to June
Kottiyoor Vysakha Mahotsavam is a 27-day annual festival commemorating the mythology of daksha yaga held in the two popular temples on the banks of the Bavali river in Kottiyoor. Located on the west bank is ikkare Kottiyoor Temple and on the east, a temporary shrine called akkare Kottiyoor is raised during the festival time. The latter temple has no sanctum-sanctorum and is located on a raised platform made of river stones in the centre of a pond, which is the origin of a spring. Devotees circle the shrine within the pond, mostly in the rain during the rituals.
Highlight: Rohini aradhana is performed by the head of a Vaishnavite family, who is considered a representative of Vishnu. The Namboothiri performs the rites and embraces the Shivalinga in the shrine. The pooja is a reminder of how Vishnu embraced Shiva to pacify and comfort his dear mate who was in inconsolable grief after he saw the charred dead body of his wife Sati.
Temples to visit nearby:
– Muthappan Temple Parassinikkadavu

Kalpathi Rathotsavam

The annual chariot festival hosted by the Kalpathi village is a 700-year-old tradition. It’s a 10-day festival held at the Sri Visalakshi Sametha Sri Viswanatha Swamy temple.
Highlight: The massive, decked chariots that are drawn by the devotees through the village, which is a spectacle in itself. Four chariots, representing Lord Shiva, Goddess Lakshmi and their two sons Ganapathy and Murugan, are brought to the centre of of the town from four different temples. This coming together of the four chariots is called devarathasangamam.
Temples to visit nearby:
– Hemambika Temple
– Manappullikaavu Temple
– Peralassery Sri Subramhmanya Temple

Chitra Pournami Festival

Mangala Devi Temple
Month: April/May
Highlight: The temple on Kerala – Tamil Nadu border is opened only once a year, for this festival. Held on a full moon day, priests from Tamil Nadu and Kerala attend the prayers, after which a pongala is conducted by women devotees.

Month: November/December
The Ashtami is the most important day in the 12-day temple festival, which is celebrated to commemorate Lord Siva blessing the Vyaghrapada Maharshi, after years of praying.
Highlight: To welcome the procession of Lord Muruga from the nearby Udayanapuram Subramanya Temple, the houses and lanes leading to the Vaikom temple are lit up with lamps or Ashtami Vilakku. At night, it truly looks divine.

Muchilottukavu Perumkaliyattam

Perumkaliyattam, the theyyam festival, is performed across the district to worship the Muchilottu Bhagavathi, the chief goddess of the Vaniya community. For the people of North Malabar, it is not just a ritual but a culture in itself. The Perumkaliyattam is believed to bring prosperity and luck to the people.
Highlight: Perumkaliyattam showcases hundreds of theyyam performances. These are performed during the period, across five kaavus of the Vaniya community. This is not an annual festival and at some temples, the festival is celebrated once in 50 or 80 years and hence the fervour of the performance is frenzied. The ones in Karivellur Muchilottukavu and Kanathoor Nalvar Bhoothasthanam offer a spectacle of 400-odd theyyams.
Temples to
visit nearby:
– Ananthapura Lake Temple
– Mallikarjuna Temple


Month: JUNE
Oachirakali is a mock battle between two groups, and it commemorates yesteryear war preparations. The cattle festival Erupathettam Onam is celebrated on the 28th day after Onam and huge bull idols are made of wood, cloth and clay for this festival.
Highlight: Oachirakali has a waterlogged platform, on which instead of swords, sticks are used to fight, and competitors splash muddy water at each other. For Erupathettam Onam, around 50 huge idols of bulls or eduppu kala are pulled on giant wheels to the temple.
Temples to visit nearby:
r Kottarakkara Ganesh Temple
r Asramam Sreekrishna Swamy Temple

Thiruvabharanam Ghoshayatra

Month: January
Highlight: The devotees carry the three holy boxes of ornaments belonging to the deity on their heads and travel by foot for around three days from Pandalam Palace to Sabarimala, crossing around 81 km, for the Makaravilakku celebrations.

Valliyoorkavu Arattu

Month: MARCH
Highlight: The 14-day annual Arattu festival at Valliyoorkavu temple near Mananthavadi is the meeting point of tribes across the district. The festival is known for rituals of kalamezhuthum pattum, eedum koorum and sopananritham.

Thirumandhamkunnu Mahotsavam

Highlight: The 134-year-old utsavam is known as the national festival of Valluvanadu. The kalampattu, performed by Pattu Kurup, a traditional community seeking blessings of Bhadrakali, is a sight to behold. As the Kurup chief sings, the oracle or velichappad dances around the pattern or kalam as if in a trance.

Aluva Shivarathri

Highlight: Devotees pay respect to their forefathers through the custom of Bali Tharpanam at River Periyar. Ablution of idols, an all-night cultural programme and poojas are held to celebrate the Shivarathi, as devotees stay awake the entire night singing devotional songs.
Lokanarkavu Ulsavam

Month: MARCH

Highlight: History has it that Thacholi Othenan, the legendary warrior of North Malabar, used to worship Goddess Durga here every day. The pomp and fervour of the eight-day festival supersedes any in the Malabar region, with the poorakali at night being the chief spectacle. Kalaripayattu is also an essential part of the temple festivities.

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