Christmas and New Year in Kochi are the big time for festivals
KERALA, INDIA: Festivals in Kerala are true celebrations in God’s Own Country; occasions when grandeur prevails over the characteristic simplicity of the Kerala lifestyle. Besides being occasions for merry-making, festivals of Kerala have traditionally been preservers of the art and culture of this land. Whether religious or social, traditional or modern, a festival here is never complete without an art event which would range from the 2000-year-old Kutiyattam to stage shows.
Christmas is one of the biggest festival in Kerala, and the highlight of New Year festival is at Kochi, with the famous Cochin Carnival and Lighting of Papanai. The New Year is welcomed at Kochi, by lighting a huge Santa-like figure called Papanai to bid adieu to former year and light to welcome New Year. This is followed by a gala party with dance and music till morning.
Festival dates are decided in accordance with the Malayalam calendar and the local traditions and customs. There can be changes in the dates. Browse Festival Calendar to know more about specialties and dates.
Chettikulangara Bharani. Venue: Chettikulangara Bhagavathy Temple.
Location: Mavelikara, District: Alappuzha
One of the most vibrant festivals of Kerala, the Chettikulangara Bharani offers visuals and showcases the cultural of the state. An annual event held at the Chettikulangara Temple during the Malayalam month of Kumbham (February-March), the festival is dedicated to Goddess Bhagavathy.
Getting there. Railway station: Mavelikkara, about 6 km away.
Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, 85 km from Alappuzha
Attukal Pongala. Venue: Attukal Bhagavathi Temple
Location: East Fort, District: Thiruvananthapuram
Pongala is the largest crowd of women in the state, is celebrated at Attukal Bhagavathi Temple in Kerala’s capital city of Thiruvananthapuram. The festival entered the Guinness records for being the largest single gathering of women for a religious activity. Only women are allowed to participate in the ritual.
Getting there. Nearest railway station: Thiruvananthapuram, about 3 km away
Nearest airport: Trivandrum International Airport, about 5 km away
Paripally Gajamela. Venue: Kodimoottil Bhagavathy Temple
Location: Parippally. District: Kollam
The event witnesses parading of as many as up to 50 elephants. Further, a host of cultural programmes are staged as part of this event on the temple premises. The elephants are paraded on the last day of the ten-day festival.
Getting there: Railway station: Kollam Junction, 22 km from Paripally
Airport: Trivandrum, about 45 km away
Kottangkulangara Chamayavilakku. Venue: Kottangkulangara Devi Temple. Location: Kollam, District: Kollam
A gender bender of a festival where men cross dress, the Kottangkulangara celebrated at the Kottangkulangara Devi Temple in Kollam stands apart from the rest of the festivals in Kerala with this unique flavour. This novel event is part of a special temple ritual during the festival. Men dressed up in women’s attire bearing traditional lamps will swarm the premises of the temple. They will then move as a procession towards the temple. This unique festival attracts hordes of crowds each year.
Getting there. Railway station: Kollam, about 13 km. Airport: Trivandrum, 71 km from Kollam town.
Alpashi Utsavam. Venue: Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Thiruvananthapuram district. Location: East Fort
The temple in the capital city of Kerala is famous for fascinating stories and legends associated with it and attracts tourists from near and far. Alpasi festival usually falls in October or November. The most fascinating part of the festival is the holy bath in the sea. The procession comprises decorated elephants.
Rajiv Gandhi Boat Race. District: Alappuzha
Rajiv Gandhi Boat Race at Pulinkunnu, Alappuzha. The event is a memorial to the former prime minister. Festival highlights: Colourful water procession Water floats Boat races.
Getting there. Railway station: Kayamkulam, about 5 km away. Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, about 85 km from Alappuzha.
Make it Happen!
Touch Down: Kerala has three major international airports. Thiruvananthapuram Airport in the south, one in central Kerala, Cochin Airport in central Kerala and the other in northern part, Karipur or Calicut International Airport. The state can easily be accessible by railway networks.
Stay: There are some impressive places to stay in Kerala, from colonial estates to eco beach resorts. Homestays are a great, and affordable way to meet locals and enjoy home cooked food.
Eat: All standard restaurants offer a variety of cuisines including Continental, Chinese, Indian and typical Kerala food
Play: The harbour city of Kochi has much to offer visitors. It's beguiling jumble of palaces, churches and early colonial architecture. Don't miss the spice market and Chinese fishing nets.
Mini Guide: Some temples do not permit entry to non-Hindus. Strict dress codes are followed in most of the temples. Footwear is banned inside the temple premises.Kerala has unique topography with Arabian sea, a part of the Indian Ocean on the west and the Western Ghats on the east.