April is officially festival season in Kerala – but high spirits, colourful ceremonies and a general air of celebration tend to be a feature of India’s famous southern enclave all year round! Here are 3 upcomers that are well worth checking out…
Kerala was only declared a state in 1956, but the area has been a thriving centre of human activity for at least 5000 years. Today it is one of the jewels of India’s south, popular amongst visitors the world over. Like its neighbour Goa, it enjoys a unique hybrid culture with a substantial Catholic population and cultural elements thanks to the influence of its former colonizers, the Portuguese, layered on top of Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism and even older animistic traditions. All of which make for some fascinating festivals….
Arattupuzha Pooram March 29 – April 05 2018
You’ll have to get your skates on for this one – but it’s worth it. Arattpuzha Pooram is a spectacular week long Hindu temple festival dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, son of Siva and Mona. It is one of the most ancient festivals in the State – and also the most spectacular, with devotees flocking to the village of Arattpuzha from near and far. The fifth and sixth days of the festival are the most grandiose, with scores of elephants marching in procession through th streets accompanied by drummers, all culminating in the ritual bathing of an idol representing the deity. A real spectacle!
Thoota Pooram – 25 April 2018
Thoota Pooram marks the end of the official pooram festival season and takes place in the Malabar region of Kerala at the Sree Thootha Bhagavathy temple on the banks of the lugubrious Thootha River. The highlight here is the elephant pageantry with scores of elephants bedecked in muthukkudas (colourful decorative parasols) and venchamarams (fans of thick fluffy cotton that were once used to cool the aristocracy) marching to the clangour of traditional percussion ensembles.
Edathua Perunnal 27 April – 07 May
Even on a regular day St George’s Church in Edathua is an architectural sight to behold – an elegant Portuguese colonial structure featuring decorative colonnades that was built back in 1810. But over 10 days each year, pilgrims from all over India flock to the riverside church to celebrate the Feast of St George and a myriad processions, fares and fetes take place in the surrounding area.