Kerala History

The colorful mosaic of Kerala fairs and festivals 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. Every season turns up new festivals, each a true celebration of the bounties of nature. The festivals exhibits an eternal harmony of spirit. Packed with fun and excitement, festivals are occasions to clean and decorate houses, to get together with friends and relatives and to exchange gifts. New attire, dance, music and ritual, all add to their joyful rhythm. It is a time for prayer, for pageantry and processions and time to rejoice. The important fairs and festivals in the state are: 


OnamOnam is the annual harvest festival of kerala. Celebrations are on for ten days, beginning with the atham day of the malayalam month chingam. The highlights of Onam are Floral decorations, Elephant processions, Thiruvathirakali, Classical and folk dance performances, Classical and folk music recitals, Cultural pageants, Water carnivals etc. 





Thrissur pooramThis festival held at Thekinkadu Maidan at Thrissur in the month of May. The highlight of Thrissur Pooram is the pageant of 30 caparisoned elephants assembled in the precincts of the vadakumnathan temple. The nearby paramekavu and thiruvambadi temples are also participants in the festival. Kudamattam (changing of umbralla from hands to hands), Chendamelain (kind of drums), Panchavadyam (five typical instruments played), Spectacular fireworks display are the other highlights.


Champakulam BoatraceThe boat races of Kerala are very famous. Kuttanad, which was once renowned as the rice bowl of Kerala and the upper Kuttanad area, are the most famous boat racing spots. Since the chief occupations of the natives are agriculture and fishing, the annual boat races are actually a platform for the display of physique and muscle power of the local people. The oarsmen and boats are selected and maintained in such an indigenous fashion as to give an exemplary performance. These boat races also bred communal harmony and unity as everybody could participate in them irrespective of caste, creed and classes. The oldest and most popular snake boat race in Kerala, the race is held on the Champakulam Lake on the Moolam day of the Malayalam month Midhunam (the day of the installation of the deity) at the Sree Krishna Temple at Ambalappuzha. According to a legend, Maharaja Devanarayana of Chempakasseri on the advice of the royal priest built a beautiful temple at Ambalappuzha but just before the installation of the deity, he was told that the idol was not auspicious. However, on suggestion of his minister, her arranged for the beautiful idol of Sree Krishna, said to be presented to Arjuna by the Lord himself, to be brought down from the Karikulam Temple in Kurichi. 


Nehru Trophy BoatraceThe most famous boat race of Kerala, the world-renowned Nehru Trophy Boat Race is held at Punnamada Lake in Alappuzha on the second Saturday of August every year. The highlights of these spectacular races are magnificent snake boats or Chundanvallams and its boisterous and rhythmic boat songs known as Vanchipattu. Nehru Trophy Boat Race is the biggest and the most famous event. This year the event falls on 9th August 2003. The first race was an impromptu one conducted in 1952 in honor of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who visited Alappuzha. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was so thrilled and excited by the event that on his return to Delhi in December that year, he donated a silver trophy, which is a replica of a snake boat placed on a wooden abacus bearing the following inscription above his signature - 'To the winners of the boat race which is a unique feature of community life in Travancore - Cochin.' This trophy later came to be known as Nehru Trophy, and now the Nehru Trophy Boat Race is held every year to commemorate his visit to the place. The boat clubs and the boat race lovers spend lakhs of rupees for making this performance even more interesting and to win the trophy is considered a matter of pride and prestige. 18 snake boats will take part in the race this year and the 1370 meters long racecourse is divided into various tracks in such a manner that as the boats advance through these tracks, they appear like the fast moving snakes. 


Held two weeks after the Nehru Trophy Boat Race, this event is held at Pulinkunnu, 10 km away from the Alleppey town in the memory of the Late Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, the former Indian Prime Minister.


DeepavaliAnother national festival. Deepavali means the festival of lights. There are many legends connected with the festival. Some say that it is a celebration of sree krishna's victory over the demon narakasura; others hold that it is the day sree rama returned from exile. The highlights of deepavali are: All houses are lit with rows and rows of small earthern oil lamps, Special devotional rites to lakshmi (The goddess of prosperity),Entire day of merrymaking and feasting, Distribution of special deepavali sweets, Fireworks and crackers.