Kerala which is often referred to as 'God's Own Country' has a large number of Hindu temples. Many of the temples have unique traditions and most hold festivals on specific days of the year. Temple festivals usually continue for a number of days. A common characteristic of these festivals is the hoisting of a holy flag which is then brought down only on the final day of the festival. Some festivals include Poorams, the most famous of these being the Thrissur Pooram. Temples that can afford it will usually involve at least one richly caparisoned elephant as part of the festivities. The idol of the God in the temple is taken out on a procession around the country side atop this elephant. When the procession visits homes around the temple, people will usually present rice, coconuts, and other offerings to the God. Processions often include traditional music such as Panchari melam or Panchavadyam.
The major Hindu temple festivals in the state are Makaravilakku at Sabarimala, Nenmara Vallangi Vela, Thrissur Pooram, Attukal Pongala in Trivandrum's famous Attukal Temple, Vrishchikotsavam in Tripunithura Sree Poornathrayeesa temple, Utsavams in Padmanabha swami temple at Trivandrum, Ashtami at Vaikom temple, Kodungalloor Bharani, Chettikulangara Bharani at Mavelikkara, Guruvayoor Anayottam, Chottanikkara Makam and Sivarathri festival in Aluva temple and Padanilam temple at Mavelikkara, Maradu Thalappoli at Maradu, and in Malayalam Calendar Meenam (March-April) Pooram at North Ezhipram Bhagavathi Temple, near Marampally, 10 kms from Aluva.
When are the Kerala Temple Festivals Celebrated:
From February to April, with each festival running for around 10 days.
Where are the Kerala Temple Festivals Celebrated:
At temples throughout the state of Kerala, in south India. The biggest and most colorful festival takes place at Vadakkumnathan temple in Thrissur and is called Thrissur Pooram. It happens during the Malayalam month of Medam (April/May). Another important temple festival not far from Thrissur is the Arattupuzha Pooram, which has around 60 elephants in attendance.
How are the Kerala Temple Festivals Celebrated:
While everyday temple rituals are modest, temple festivals take place on a grand scale and are a highlight on the social calenders of Kerala's population. The festivals feature large processions of bejeweled elephants, drummers and other musicians, colorful floats carrying gods and goddesses, and fireworks.
What Rituals are Performed During the Kerala Temple Festivals:
Detailed temple rituals are conducted by a tantri (the main temple priest) according to the temple god. Rituals involving the god statue in a Pallivetta (Royal Hunt) and Arattu (Holy Bath) are the focus of the festivals of some Kerala's major temples. During the Thrissur and Arattupuzha Poorams, gods from surroundings temples make their annual visit on elephant back to pay their respects to the presiding temple god.
What to Expect at the Kerala Temple Festivals:
Plenty of crowds, elephants, noise, and processions. Music is an important part of the temple celebrations and the frenetic percussionists, of which there are plenty, manage to whip up quite a sound. Cultural programs, including classical music and dance performances, are also on offer.