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Home > Discover Cochin > Art and Culture > Festivals
 Art & Culture
  Grand Kerala Festival
  Thrissur Pooram
  List of Festivals and Fairs

Art & Culture
  Thrissur Pooram
  List of Festivals and Fairs
Fine Arts
Martial Arts


Kerala's harvest festival Onam is the celebration of the return of the spirit of king Mahabali.

The legendary King Mahabali, was well loved by his people. He was supposed to have annexed all the three worlds - earth, heaven and the nether world. The Devathas, having lost possession of heaven, appealed to Lord Vishnu. Vishnu approached Mahabali in the guise of a Brahmin boy, Vamana, and asked for a boon of three feet of land. When the boon was granted, Vishnu grew to enormous proportions and with his first two steps covered both the sky and the earth. Realising that he was defeated, Mahabali offered his own head for Vamana to take his third step. Though Mahabali was vanquished, his people yearned for him. So Vishnu permitted him to return to earth to his people once a year. And so the people of Kerala celebrate Onam, welcoming the spirit of king Mahabali.

On the day of Onam, houses are cleaned and floral decorations put up to welcome the beloved ruler. People visit temples early in the morning to offer prayers. Then begins the feast of delicious food on plantain leaves. Pookalam is a traditional flower arrangement that is made entirely of flowers. Evening cultural programmes include Kaikottukali where women dressed in brilliant white silk saris dance in a circular movement. Kathakali performances are also organized in many places.

Many tourists including foreigners visit the city during the season and the Government of Kerala has declared this period as a Tourism Week.


April 14, holds special importance to the people of Kerala. Vishu heralds the Malayalee New Year [also known as the harvest festival]. Vishu is the first day of the first Malayalam month of Medam. Though it is the ninth month in the new calendar, astrologers continue to follow the older calendar and thus consider the first day of Medam to be the New Year Day. Similar festivals such as Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, Bihu in Assam, and Baisakhi in Punjab, are all celebrated around the same time.

On this occasion children eagerly await to receive the 'vishukaineetam', where the elders of the family hand over small tokens, normally in the form of one rupee coins to the youngsters. The belief behind this custom holds that the children would be blessed with wealth and fortune in the future. The women of the house prepare the mid-day sadhya, which comparatively may not have a grand spread as in the case of say, the more celebrated Onam. Steaming hot rice is served on plantain leaves accompanied by kaallan (spiced-up curry made of vellarikya and ripe mangoes in butter milk), olan (white pumpkins, potatoes, and coconut in a wheyey gravy), erisseri (jackfruit in a thick peppery gravy) and papadams. The dishes are made predominantly using gourds and pumpkins, mangoes, jackfruit, and coconuts which are found in abundance during the season. Finally payasam [sweet] made of rice and milk, ends the lunch.

The famous Sree Krishna temple at Guruvayoor holds great importance during Vishu, wherein the Vishukani festival dedicated to Guruvayoorappan [Lord Krishna] , the presiding deity, is considered to be extremely propitious.


JANUARY Makara Vilakku festival at Sabarimala Temple.
  The Elephant March at Thrissur and Thiruvananthapuram.
FEBRUARY Utram Festival at Tripunithura.
  Sivarathri Festival at Tripunithura Temple.
MARCH Kodiyettu, Ashtami Festival and Elephant race at Guruvayur [Sri Krishna Temple] .
APRIL Vishu.
  Thrissur Pooram at Thrissur.
  Arattupuzha Pooram at Arattupuzha Temple.
MAY Shankaracharya Jayanthi at Kalady.
JUNE Prathishtadinam at Sabarimala.
  Oachirakali [the festival of martial arts at Oachira].
JULY Boat race at Alappuzha.
AUGUST Nehru Trophy boat Race at Alappuzha.
  Kerala Tourism Week
OCTOBER Krishna Jayanthi at Guruvayur.
  Mahanavami [Dance and Music festival at Thiruvananthapuram]
NOVEMBER Mandalam festival at Sabarimala Temple.
  Ashtami at Vaikom.
DECEMBER Sivagiri Festival at Varkala.
  Mandal celebrations at Sabarimala Temple.
  Ekadasi at Guruvayur.

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