There are good number of festivals and fairs that are observed with much ado in the God's Own Country - Kerala. Kerala festivals could be categorized into religious festivals, harvest festivals, temple festivals etc. Besides that, elephant pageants are also organized throughout the year which are central to the festivities of Kerala people. People dress themselves in colorful attires, make big size colorful flower rangolis and eat luscious traditional delicacies during Kerala fairs & festivals. Some fairs like Snake Boat Races and Garden Festivals are organized by Kerala Govt. at backwaters of Kerala, hill stations, beaches and other tourist destinations. Highlights of the Kerala fairs and festivals tour are discussed below in brief:
Onam Festival :
Onam Festival is the most celebrated festivals in Kerala which is equally popular among foreign tourists also who participate in it to share the charm and festive fervor of the people. The 10 days long festival is celebrated in August - September (Chingam month of Malayalam Calendar) with much pomp and show. A grand community lunch Onasadya is served to the people on Thiuruvonam Day which is attended by millions of devotees and travelers. Grand Snake Boat Race in which teams consisting of hundreds of oarsmen participate is also an important part of Onam festival. Grand elephant processions are also held in streets which are attended by thousands of people who are dressed in colorful attires. Onam is known as one of the famous Kerala festivals.
Navarathri Festival :
Navarathri literally means "Nine Nights". This nine days long festival is celebrated for 10 days in Ashwin month of Hindu calendar. Goddess Durga is worshipped in different forms like Bhadrakali, Jagdamba, Annapurna etc. during the festival season. This Kerala festival culminates on 10th day, which is also known as Vijayadashmi day or Dussehra. Some devotees fast for 09 days during the festivities taking only milk and dishes made of milk. Winter crops are sown soon after the festival.
Thitambu Nritham Festival :
This is a dance festival in which priestly dancers perform the divine dance keeping replicas of gods on their heads. The dance drumming or Thaalams are accompanied by scintillating music coaxes. Each circumlocution of the dancer is characterized by unique Thaalam.
Vishu Festival :
It is a temple festival which is celebrated in April. It is celebrated to mark the beginning of sowing season in Kerala. A Vishukkani is prepared which consists of a decorated plate, Konna flowers, fruits, gold ornaments and portraits of gods and goddesses. Vishukkani is placed amid the brilliance of metal lamps. It is believed that the sighting of Vishukkani will ensure prosperity of the agriculture for the family.
Ashtami Rohini Festival:
The festival is celebrated to mark the birth of Lord Krishna. It falls in the Chingam (August-September) month of the Malayalam lunar calendar. The festival is also known as Gokulashtami, Janamashtami and Krishna Janamashtami. People observe fast during the day which they break at midnight. Krishna temples are decorated a lot and girls perform the graceful Kaikottikkali dance. Palpayasam is served to devotees which is a sweet dish.
Christmas Festival :
Christmas is celebrated on 25 December to mark the nativity of Jesus Christ. Christmas Tree is well decorated and people pray in churches where masses are conducted by priests. Carols and songs are sung amid cheerful festivities and the hymn "Gloria in exelcis Deo" is reverberated by the people amid the bursting of crackers. Christmas Cake is distributed among all devotees.
Easter Festival :
Easter is celebrated to mark the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Good Friday is the day of grief and services are held in the church in afternoon. Easter Vigil is held in the churches when a big candle is consecrated from which many other candles are lit, indicating resurrections of the Christ. Hallelujah is the joy word with which people greet one another Easter wishes. Grand dinner is held at homes at night which is shared with relatives and friends.
Id-ul-Zuha-Bakrid Festival :
The Muslim festival of sacrifice is celebrated in July. Muslims sacrifice goat to commemorate the sacrifice of prophet Ibrahim. Id Namaj is held in the mosques and sacrificial meat is offered to the devotees. People finish their Haj Pilgrimage in Mecca on the day. Delicious dinner is eaten at night in the houses.
Miladi Sherif Festival :
The festival is celebrated to mark the birth of Prophet Mohammed. Reading of short biography of Mohammed known as Maulod is done on the day. Muslim Ulemas give discourses to the people about the teachings of Mohammed. People carry out colorful street processions and feed the poor.
Nehru Trophy Snake Boat Race :
The grand Kerala fairs is held in Punnamada Lake in Alappuzha (Alleppey) district of Kerala on 13 August every year. Chundans (Snake Boats) that measure more than 100 ft. in length are rowed passionately by hundreds of oarsmen. The fair has become a great tourist draw of Kerala and travelers from all over the world come to witness this grand water carnival of Kerala.
There are some more festivals in Kerala that are celebrated with much fanfare like: