AND FESTIVALS OF KERALA
Bounded on the east by the Western Ghats and
the west by the Arabian Sea, Kerala is unique
in the distinctiveness of their language, dress,
culture and institutions. Dravidian culture
has had a wide impact on the culture of the
malayalees. Eons ago, the main rulers were the
Cheras, Cholas and the Pandyas.
were frequent clashes between the Cheras and
the Pandyas and eventually the Cholas succeeded
and ruled the whole of Kerala. Malayalam started
flourishing during this period, which was greatly
influenced by the prevailing Sanskrit language.
This period also saw the beginning of Ayurveda.
The influence of Adi Sankara who was born at
Kalady in Kerala was the exponent of the Advaita
Philosophy, revived the Brahminic Hinduism in
the whole of India during this era.
is a melting pot where several ethnic and religious
groups mingle. A good illustration of the religious
tolerance or secularism is found in the heart
of Kerala's capital, 'Thiruvananthapuram', where
a Hindu temple, a mosque and a cathedral stand
side by side. The ancient rulers of Kerala never
practiced religious discrimination. Patronage
was distributed not only to the Hindus, but
also to the Christians, the Jews and the Muslims.
It has been an open field for the missionaries
of all religions. St. Thomas who landed at Kodungallur
was warmly welcomed. He converted several people
including Brahmins into Christianity. 'Chronique
de Seert' has references to the visit of David
Dudi, the Bishop of Assyria between 295 and
300 AD, Thomas the Manichan in 277 AD and Thomas
of Cana in the 8th century. In 644 AD, Malik
bin Deenar arrived in Kerala to build mosques
and spread Islam. He too was accorded a warm
the advent of the British in the late 18th century,
English language assumed importance. This brought
about a tremendous impact upon the life and
culture of the Keralites. In this respect, Kerala
owes a great deal to the Christian Missionaries.
They were careful not to disturb the Hindu community
and easily blended into the Kerala culture.
Malayalam replaced Latin for Church services
and candles were replaced for the traditional
Kerala 'Nilavilakku'. They also wholeheartedly
participated in the Hindu festivities. Thus
they enriched Kerala's ethnic culture. The Muslims
of Kerala are the descendents of the Arab traders
who came to Kerala and married locally and finally
settled down here.
Intermingling with the Portuguese, the Dutch
and the British has resulted in the creation
of a 'Eurasian' community. Most of them are
Latin Christians and their culture is distinctly
different from the traditional Kerala culture.
of the unique festivals brightens up the otherwise
customary affairs of life. It is a reason to
celebrate life and resembles eternal harmony.
Filled with laughter, enthusiasm and excitement,
festivals bring people of various religions
and backgrounds together and take pleasure in
the endowments of nature.
With ever so many fests all through the year
to cherish, to get together and to rejoice,
Keralites must be truly blessed. Every season
wakes up to another delightful festival, which
makes life more vivacious and cheerful.