As you travel across Kerala, don't be surprised if you hear drum beats and see caparisoned elephants on the roads. It's festival season in God's Own Country. We give you a list of some popular festivals coming up in March.
March 3, Kumbhabharani
The Bharani day in the Malayalam month of Kumbham (February – March) is considered very auspicious for the worship of Mother Goddess in Kerala. It will be celebrated across the state at various Devi temples. The most famous and the most spectacular one is the festival at Chettikulangara temple in Mavelikkara. People from across the 12 'karas' (regions) build 'Kettukazhchas' (tall structures designed to look like towers and decorated with cloth, flower garlands, dolls and fancy ornaments). They are carried on a platform mounted on wheels across the small town. Devotees from each kara will pull and maneuver their Kettukazhcha into a field next to the temple on the Bharani day, which falls on March 13 this year. This festival transcends the barriers of religion and is open to all who wish to participate. Click here to know more about this festival
Where: Chettikulangara Temple, Mavelikkara.
How to reach: Chettikulangara temple is about 6kms from Mavelikkara Railway station. Buses connect Mavelikkara to the rest of the state.
March 6 - Konganpada
Konganpada is a fusion of myths, history and religion. Spread over a couple of days, the festival is rather unique. During AD 918, people from Kongunadu, which includes parts of the present-day Coimbatore across the ghats used to come to Chittur for trade. Skrimishes were normal. Once, the Nair warriors under the leadership of the goddess of Chittur defeated the army of the Kongan. The Konganpada commemorates this victory. Each of the rituals, including the 'ola vayana' and 'Kutti kolam', have their origins in this lore.
Where: Chittur is about 14 kms from Palakkad. Palakkad is well connected with the rest of the state via roads and railway. The nearest airport is Coimbatore International airport, about 54kms away.
March 11 - Attukal Pongala
For people in Thiruvananthapuram, Attukal Pongala is not just a temple festival. Nor is it just an event, which goes down in the Guinness Book of World Records as one of the largest single gathering of women for a religious activity. It is much more than that – an affair with spirituality and celebrating women.
The legend dates back to the Tamil classic Silappathikaram and Kannagi. After setting Madurai on flames, Kannagi is supposed to have reached the banks of the Killiyar. She was tired and in mourning. The women of the land made and served her food before she vanished and became presiding goddess at Attukal. And this is why, year after year, thousands come to offer pongala, from across the globe. The pongala is rice cooked in pots – preferably earthen – symbolizes the hospitable care that their forebears took of the forlorn Kannagi.
Where: Attukal temple is about 15 kms from the Trivandrum International Airport. The nearest railway station is the Thiruvananthapuram Central Station about 5kms away.
March 15- Thirunakkara Pooram
The annual festival at the famous Siva temple in the heart of Kottayam city is something to write home about. The temple and its premises are lit up and there will be performances such as dance, kathakali and other art forms late into the night. The highlight of the festival, though, is the Pakal Pooram.
Where? Kottayam town.
Kottayam is well connected by road and rail. The nearest airport is Cochin International Airport, which is about 87kms away.
March 24- 25 - Kottamkulangara Chamayavilakku
The Chamayavilakku Festival at Kottamkulangara temple is a unique and has over the years, become popular with the LGBT community too. The legend has it that a group of cowherds found a coconut and tried to break it with a stone they found in the woods. The stone bled, the scared cowherds ran to the village elders, who consulted the astrologers who divined the presence of the Goddess. Those days, girls used to offer pujas in the temples. Since this was a forest, the cowherds dressed up as girls and offered the puja. To this day, for the festival, men dress up as women and carry out a procession during the night to please the goddess.
Where: Kottamkulangara is near Chavara in Kollam District. Situated close to the National Highway, buses will be the easiest way to reach the temple. If you are traveling by train, you can get off at Kollam and take a bus to Kottankulangara.