Kerala is a land of fairs and festivities. The state’s diverse cultural background has given rise to a colorful mosaic of socio-religious fairs and festivals that are occasions for joy and merriment indulged by the people. The spirit of celebration is very much a part of the state’s cultural ethos. The festivals are conducted by all sections of society, irrespective of religion, caste or creed and are a huge draw among the tourists who arrive from various parts of the state and outside to be part of these happy occasions.
Most of the festivals are associated with local places of worship and involve elaborate ceremonies including flag hoisting, special prayers, mass feasts and so on that are witnessed by the crowds that include devotees and visitors who throng these places during the festival days. Festival time in Kerala is the best occasion to watch the spectacular display of traditional performing arts and relish the local cuisine.
Highlights of Kerala festivals are classical, folk music and dance presentations, cultural pageants, elephant rallies, percussion orchestras, stage shows, street plays, floral decorations, water carnivals, firework displays, traditional rituals and more, forming the rich repertoire of an artistic and cultural heritage of the state. These fairs and festivals inevitably form the must-see part of the travel itinerary of any tourist to the state.
The festivities are conducted throughout the year in the different districts of the state, making Kerala a vibrant tourist destination. There is prayer, music, gaiety everywhere….holidays are announced….people wear new clothes, jewelry and indulge in shopping on the occasion. Such events and celebrations are not only occasions of fun and excitement but also signify the social and religious harmony existing among the varied faiths and communities of the state. Social festivals such as Onam are jointly held by the people who clean up and decorate their homes, offices and public places, get together with families, friends and relatives, and exchange gifts, sweetmeats and pleasantries to make the event a memorable one.
Kerala 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.
Each 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.
A close look at the Kerala calendar will reveal that this is a land where the festivals never end.
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