About Kerala


Kerala (English pronunciation: /ˈkerələ/), regionally also Keralam (കേരളം), is a state located in the south-west region of India on the Malabar coast. It was formed on 1 November 1956 per the States Reorganisation Act by combining various Malayalam-speaking regions. Spread over 38,863 km2 (15,005 sq mi) with a population of 33,387,677, it is bordered by Karnataka to the north and north east, Tamil Nadu to the east and south, and the Laccadive Sea to the west. Thiruvananthapuram is the state capital among the 14 districts; other major cities include Kochi, Kozhikode, Kollam and Thrissur. The region was a prominent spice exporter from 3000 BCE to 3rd century. The Chera Dynasty was the first powerful kingdom based in Kerala, though it frequently struggled against attacks from the neighbouring Cholas and Pandyas. During the Chera period Kerala remained an international spice trading center. Later, in the 15th century, the lucrative spice trade attracted Portuguese traders to Kerala, and eventually paved the way for the European colonisation of the whole of India. After independence, Travancore and Cochin joined the Republic of India and Travancore-Cochin was given the status of a state. Later, the state was formed in 1956 by merging the Malabar district, Travancore-Cochin (excluding four southern taluks), and the taluk of Kasargod, South Kanara.

Kerala is the state with the lowest positive population growth rate in India (3.44%) and has a density of 819 people per km2. The state has the highest Human Development Index (HDI) (0.790) in the country according to the Human Development Report 2011. It also has the highest literacy rate (93.91%), the highest life expectancy (74 years) and the highest sex ratio (as defined by number of women per 1000 men: 1,083 women per 1000 men) among all Indian states. Kerala has the lowest homicide rate among Indian states, for 2011 it was 1.1 per 100,000. A survey in 2005 by Transparency International ranked it as the least corrupt state in the country. Kerala has witnessed significant emigration of its people, especially to the Persian Gulf countries during the Kerala Gulf boom during the 1970s and early 1980s, and its economy depends significantly on remittances from a large Malayali expatriate community. Hinduism is practised by the half of the population, followed by Islam and Christianity. Malayalam is the major spoken language. Although it is considered the "cleanest state in India", the morbidity rate, at 118, is the highest in the country. The culture of the state traces its roots from 3rd century CE. It is a synthesis of Aryan and Dravidian cultures, developed over centuries under influences from other parts of India and abroad.

Production of pepper and natural rubber contribute a prominent portion of the total national output. In the agricultural sector, coconut, tea, coffee, cashew and spices are important. The state has 590 km of coastal belt, and around 1.1 million people of the state are dependent on the fishery industry which contributes 3% of the state's income. The state's 145,704 kilometres (90,536 mi) of roads, constitute 4.2% of all Indian roadways. There are three existing and two proposed international airports. Waterways are also used as a means of transportation. The state has the highest media exposure in India with newspapers publishing in nine different languages; mainly English and Malayalam. Kerala is an important tourist destination, with the backwaters, beaches, Ayurvedic tourism, and tropical greenery among its major attractions.


Life is a celebration in Kerala “God’s own Country”. Kerala with its beautiful landscapes has more than enough reason to celebrate. And the varied culture of the state has given expression to a colorful mosaic of festivals and fairs. A close look at the Kerala calendar will reveal that this is a land where the festivals never end, adding to the magnificence of the festivals of Kerala are fleets of caparisoned elephants, mounted by men holding white plumes swaying in the air the - most breathtaking of Kerala’s visual wonders. There is no dearth of festivals in the state, the excitement speaks during the season of Onam, exemplified in the legendary boat races and the week - long festivities, understandably, all these celebrations take place with a lot of fanfare.

Maramom Convention: This Convention is 16 km from Thiruvalla, Pathanamthitta, on the banks of river pamba in february, every year.

Highlights :

  • Considered the largest gathering of Christians in Asia.
  • Bible study and discourses by scholars from India and abroad.
  • Religious readings.
  • Hymnals
  • Faith healing sessions.
  • People arrive in country crafts (valloms).

Nehru Trophy Boat Race: One of the greatest events on the backwaters of Kerala and is held on the second Saturday of august every year. Magnificent snake boats compete for the prized trophy which was instituted by Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India

Highlights :

  • Ceremonial water procession.
  • Spectacular water floats.
  • Decorated boats.
  • Vanchipattu.
  • Races of smaller country crafts.
  • Chundanvellom race.

Rajiv Gandhi Boat Race: The event is a memorial to the former prime minister.

Highlights :

  • Colourful water procession.
  • Water floats.
  • Boat races.

Attachamayam: The festival of Attachamayam is held on the Atham day of the Malayalam month of Chingam (August/ September), at the historical town of Tripunithura, near Kochi. It is a celebration of a legendary victory of the Raja of Kochi. Pomp and colour mark the pageantry, which is replete with caparisoned elephants, varieties of folk art forms, floats and musical ensemble. This spectacular procession marks the beginning of the Onam Festival. Onam: Onam is the annual harvest festival of Kerala. Celebrations are on for ten days, beginning with the atham day of the Malayalam month chingam.

Highlights :

  • Floral decorations.
  • Elephant processions.
  • Thiruvathirakali.
  • Classical and folk dance performances.
  • Classical and folk music recitals.
  • Cultural pageants.
  • Water carnivals

Aaranmula Boat Race: The Aaranmula Boat Race is staged each year in the scenic village of Aaranmula in August/ September in the season of Onam. This river carnival is part of the Aaranmula Temple festival. Masses throng the shores of the River Pamba to watch an imposing cluster of snake boats called 'Palliyodams'. Each boat, nearly 100 feet long, is a remarkable feat of craftsmanship, with the stem curved to resemble the hood of a snake and a tampering bow. Festooned with silk and gold spangled umbrellas, the boats are manned by a crew of more than 100 men.

Thrissur Pooram: Thrissur Pooram is the most spectacular festival of Kerala celebrated at Thrissur in the month of Medom (April - May). This festival was introduced by Sakthan Thampuran, the Maharaja of erstwhile Kochi state. In the beginning of April, the people of Kerala began their search for the best elephants in the state. After their search is finished then they send a procession of decorated elephants to Thrissur to participate in the festival. The main feature of this festival is the procession of about 101 decorated elephants that assemble in the premises of the Vadakumnatha temple for the festival. The procession is accompanied by the Panchavadyam, where the five instruments create a spell binding crescendo of music and the decorated groups of elephants face each other. The festival ends with a spectacular display of fireworks.

Highlights :

  • Pageant of 30 caparisoned elephants assembled in the precincts of the vadakumnathan temple the Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva..
  • The nearby paramekavu and thiruvambadi temples are also take part in the festival..
  • Kudamattam (changing of umbrella from hands to hands).
  • Chendamelain (kind of drums).
  • Panchavadyam (five typical instruments played).
  • Spectacular fireworks display.

Other Festivals

Easter: Easter is the oldest Christian festival, is celebrated in Kerala, with the same enthusiasm and solemnity as in any other part of the world and is held with Easter Sunday sometime between March 22 and April 25. The celebrations commemorate the central tent of Christianity, the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Cochin Carnival: Cochin Carnival is a merry making feast observed during the last week of every year in Fort Kochi in Kerala. The carnival dates back to the Portuguese New Year revelry held here during the colonial days. It has evolved as an occasion for the youth to enjoy the party-like atmosphere. With unique games, competitions and illumination during these days, Fort Kochi puts on a festive look. The highlight of the Carnival is the massive procession on the New Year Day. The procession is led by a caparisoned elephant accompanied by drums and music, spectacular floats, different folk art forms, Panchavadyam etc. north Indian dances also figure in the festivities.

Oachira Temple Festival: The Oachira Temple is the venue of the famous Oachirakkali (Oachira dance) held in June, a sort of ancient choreographed mock battle. Unlike other temples, there is no shrine or idol at the Oachira temple, located nearly 32 kms from Kollam. The principal deity is a concept called Parabrahmam (Cosmic Consciousness). Rows of men dressed up in ancient soldier's costumes wave wooden swords and shields and advance and retreat to the rhythm of traditional drums.

Jagannatha Festival: This Festival is a colourful eight-day festival, which is held in the Malayalam month of Kumbham (February/ March) at the Jagannatha Temple at Madathiparambu, which is near Thalassery in Kannur. The idol of Lord Siva, the presiding deity was installed here by the famous social reformer and philosopher, Sree Narayana Guru on 13th February, 1908. The seventh day of the festival is the most auspicious. The events highlights religious conferences participated by eminent scholars and social reformers, elephant processions, fireworks display and cultural programmes.

Malabar Mahotsava: The Malabar Mahotsavam (Celibration) is a cultural extravaganza that showcases the centuries old rich cultural heritage of Kerala. The event is at Mananchira maidan (ground) in the heart of Kozhikode town from 13th to 16th January every year. The festival highlights musical concerts, performances of various classical dances like Kathakali, Mohiniyattom, Ottanthullal etc. and ritual art forms like Koothu, Thewam, Thira etc. This festival is also an occasion to relish the native cuisines and enjoy mind blowing firework displays.

Muharram: Muharram is the opening month of the Hijra year. On the 10th day of the month May is honoured by the Muslims of Kerala. As per belief, it was on this day that the Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Mohammed, and his men were slain at Karbala. It is to bemoan the martyrdom of the Imam that the Muslims observe Muharram. Fasting is an important ritual of this day.

Sabarimala Festival: Sabarimala Temple festival is celebrated in honour of Lord Ayyapa who is revered by all in India. Sabarimala is a renowned pilgrim centre atop the rugged hills of the Western Ghats. This holy shrine is dedicated to Lord Ayappa. The main pilgrimage is undertaken between November and January. There are two main rituals called the Mandala Puja and the Makara Sankranti Puja, which is celebrated from November to mid-January in Kerala during this time, the devotees perform austerities and penance.

Vettukadu Perunal: The Madre De Teus Church, popularly known as Vettukadu church, this Church is situated 7 kms from Thiruvananthapuram. The annual festival of the church is celebrated over the ten days culminating in the last Sunday of the laturgical year. Various religious rites are carried out during the festival days. On the last Saturday, the image of Christ the king is taken out in a big colorful procession. A solemn High Mass, sermons, Eucharistic procession and benediction mark the final day.

Kerala Village Fair : Gramam, the Kerala Village Fair is held in the month of January, near the shores of the famous Kovalam beach in Kerala. This fair is held for 10 days when the entire village is recreated. The central attraction of the fair is an enchanting recreation of a traditional family home known as Nalukettu. It is a quadrangular structure with a central open courtyard, corridors, massive pillars and windows, a typical architectural style of Kerala. In the fair ground there are stalls which sell hand crafted curios, bell metal mirrors, woven cloth, coir products, conch and coconut shell items. Spinning wheels, handlooms for making the Khadi cloth are also on display. In the evening various dances, music and martial arts are performed in the open air auditorium of the village.

Aluva Sivarathri Festival: The Aluva Sivarathri festival is one of the most colourful festival celebrated by the Hindus in the month of Kumbha (February - March) in Kerala. This festival is celebrated on the banks of the river Periyar at Aluva, about 16 kms. from Ernakulam. This festival is celebrated to commemorate the day on which Lord Siva consumed the deadly poison to save the world from destruction. On this day, the pilgrims awake the whole night, read the Puranas and the other holy texts and return home next morning after performing the Bali (ritual) at dawn. A ritual trade fair and various cultural programmes are also organized during the festival.

Vishu Festival : The Vishu festival is celebrated on the first day of Medam (April-May). This festival is celebrated by the Hindus all over Kerala as the astronomical New Year day. It is the common belief that the fortunes of the coming year depend on the first object they see on the Vishu day. So the important ceremony connected with this festival is the Kani Kanal. This kani includes cadjan leaf book, gold ornaments, fresh and white cloth, some rice or paddy, bell metal mirror, flowers of the Konna tree, halved jack fruits, halved coconuts, yellow cucumbur, and two standing oil lamps emitting sparkling light. One of the major item of this festival is the Vishu Kaineettam, which means that the money is gifted to the children and to the poor people by the elder members of the family. On this day the people burst firecrackers and visit the temple.

Navarathri Festival : The Navarathri festival is also one of the most important festival celebrated by the Hindus in Kerala. This festival is celebrated in the month of Kanni (September-October) and the people worship the goddess Saraswati, the goddess of learning. On the Durgashtami day, the Puja Veppu ceremony is performed. In the homes, the books and granthas are arranged tastefully in a decorated room and all sorts of study and work are given up. The whole Mahanavami day is devoted in the worshipping of goddess Saraswathi. The Vijaya Dasami day is observed as the day for the break up of the Puja and the initiation of children into the study of the alphabets and work and study are resumed.

Navarathri Festival : The Navarathri festival is also one of the most important festival celebrated by the Hindus in Kerala. This festival is celebrated in the month of Kanni (September-October) and the people worship the goddess Saraswati, the goddess of learning. On the Durgashtami day, the Puja Veppu ceremony is performed. In the homes, the books and granthas are arranged tastefully in a decorated room and all sorts of study and work are given up. The whole Mahanavami day is devoted in the worshipping of goddess Saraswathi. The Vijaya Dasami day is observed as the day for the break up of the Puja and the initiation of children into the study of the alphabets and work and study are resumed.

Pongala Festival : The ten day Pongala festival is held at Attukal Bhagavathy temple, 2 kms. from Trivandrum. this festival attracts thousands of female devotees from many parts of the country. Mens are not allowed in the vicinity of the temple during the Pongala festival. Pongala is a kind of sweet porridge, considered to be the goddess favourite offering. It is cooked by each devotee in a clay pot on the open fire and the long line of women making the ritual offering extends up to East Fort and beyond.

Chandanakudam Mahotsavam : This colourful Islamic festival is celebrated to commemorate Bee Umma, a saintly lady whose tomb is in Beemapally near Trivandrum. The devotees bring money in pots decorated with flowers, incense sticks and sandalwood paste, as an offering to the deity during the festival.

Nishagandhi Dance and Music Festival : The Nishagandhi Dance and Music Festival of Indian classical dances and music is held at Nishagandhi Open Air Theatre, Kanakkunu Palace grounds, Trivandrum. Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Kathakali, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, Mohiniyattam, Odissi, specially choreographed ballet combining one or more of these classical dance forms, Classical music (Instrumental and vocal), Jugalbandi are performed in the evening.