As you travel across Kerala, don't be surprised if you hear drum beats and see caparisoned elephants on the roads. It is festival season in God's Own Country. We give you a list of some popular festivals coming up in March.
March 7, Maha Sivarathri
There are a lot of legends associated with the Mahasivarathri. One says that it was on this day that Lord Siva consumed the deadly poison during the time of the samudramanthan (churning of the ocean) saving the world. His devotees, it is believed, stayed up the whole night to keep him from falling asleep while another legend says that it was the day that Lord Siva tied the knot with Devi Parvathi. Devotees throng the temples across the state for this festival. The Sivarathri festival at Aluva is the most popular one.
Where: All temples dedicated to Lord Siva in the state
March 13, 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.
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 14-23, 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 20, Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday is celebrated across the world to commemorate Jesus Christ's arrival in Jerusalem. In Kerala, it is celebrated as 'Oshana perunal'. After the service, thousands of devotees walk out of the churches with the palm leaves in their hands. The holy week begins with Palm Sunday.
Where: Churches across Kerala.
March 21, 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 23-24: Kottamkulangara Chamayavilakku
The Chamayavilakku Festival at Kottamkulangara temple is very 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 travelling by train, you can get off at Kollam and take a bus to Kottankulangara.
24 March, Maundy Thursday
Christians across the world observe Maundy Thursday, and it is a solemn occasion in Kerala too.
Where: Across the state
25 March, Good Friday
Good Friday is a day for special prayers, fasting and following the 'Way of the Cross' across the churches in the State. Thousands will walk up Malayatoor hill and Vagamon shrines to commemorate the sufferings and crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
27 March, Easter
Easter stands for hope and Resurrection. There will be special services across the churches in Kerala. It is a day for feasting and making merry. Take a look at all the recipes you could try out here