The festivals of Kerala transcend the level of mere entertainment. They are inherited from an age old tradition that exudes the essence of Kerala. Earlier Kerala was a group of villages who had their own imperial gods and goddesses who they believed protected them against any untoward calamities. They performed many rituals to please the gods and goddesses who are believed to come down to earth to accept the offerings. Festivities were a social affair in those days when social life revolved around temples. The four main categories of these events are the pooram, vela, utsavam and thalapoli.
Pooram is a remarkable event when the gods and goddesses arrive on splendidly adorned tuskers for a celebration. Accompanied by the Panchavadyam (an ensemble of five percussion instruments). The elephant pageant is a significant part of every festival in Kerala. The elephants are consisered to be the divine escort of gods. Ten to hundred caparisoned tuskers stand in front of the temple premises with the mahouts atop holding ornate silk umbrellas, white tufts and peacock feather fans all swaying in the rhythm of the vadyam (music).
Velakali is a ritual martial art performance by the local people to appease the Mother goddess also known as Durga, Kali or Bhagavathy. It is performed in the Devi temples and is a part of the other festivals of the pooram.
It is called the annual celebration or the festival in a temple.
It is a parade of girls and women in traditional attire with a thalam (plate) in their hands. The thalam contains rice, flowers, fruits and a lighted lamp all symbolizing prosperity.
It is a 7 day long festival with the spectacular sight of colourful and ornate kavadis (wooden bow shaped structures). The processiona begins at 4 early in the morning of the pooram day which is followed by kavadi dancing which goes on till the afternoon. This diety is later escorted by the decked up elephants and is taken out in a ritual procession. It is normally referred to as the Thrissur pooram. It attracts lots of tourists from all around the world.
Featuring 33 tuskers this festival starts in the evening with traditional music and art form presentations such as panchavadyam, vellattu, theyyam/thira, pootam, kaalavala, kuthiravela, andivelan etc. The remarkable feature of this festival is the Tholpavakooth (puppet show) conducted every evening, 17 days prior to the festival.
This is one of the most important festivals of Central Kerala. This 8 day long festival is marked by grand elephant precession during the day and ritual and folk art performances that start at night and go on till dawn. The remarkable feature of this festival is the grand finale with the all night pooram pageant.
Month : March
Venue : Arattupuzha temple, Thrissur
This oldest and most splendid Pooram festival features 61 elephants on the 6th and the 7th day of the festival. The presiding diety of the temple Lord Ayappan is believed to be visited by a hundred and one gods and goddesses from neighbouring villages during this time. On the final day the idol of the diety is given a ritual bath called arattu in the Arratupuzha river. The ritual is carried out with great zest and fervour.
This 20 day long festival is the greatest Vela celebration in Kerala. The kodiyettam (ceremonial flag hoisting) marks the begining of the festival. According to the legend the patron deities of the two villages, Nenmara and Vallangi are said to have met on the concluding day of the festival. This is marked by a procession of 30 decked up tuskers. The all night celebrations draw to a close with a spectacular display of fireworks.
Winters in December to March and monsoons in May are the best time to go to Kerala. The day time temperature is about 32 degrees and night temperature drops to the lowest of 20 degrees. The hottest months are April, May and June, where the temperature soars above 36 degrees with high humidity.