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The multicolored medley of Kerala fairs and festivals is as varied as the land, as it is an expression of the spirit of merriment that is an indispensable part of the State. Observed with fervor and jauntiness, festivals are like gems, adorning the tiara of Kerala custom and culture. Round the year the fests keep Kerala life vivacious and interludes in the humdrum interaction of life.
Every season turns up new festivals, each a true merriment of the reward of nature. The festivals display a perpetual synchronization of spirit. Filled with excitement and exhilaration, festivals are instances to clean and beautify houses, to get together with friends and relations and to exchange gifts.
Kerala Arts :-
Bharata Natyam
It is believed to be India's oldest form of classical dance. This dance form which is called poetry in motion has its hoary origins in the natya sastra written about 4000 B.C. by sage bharatha. Bharatha natyam is commonly performed by women, but sometimes by men also.
Also called koothu, is one of the oldest classical theatre arts of kerala. The solo dance is usually presented in the koothambalam of temples to the accompaniment of the mizhavu and elathalam. The performance begains with an invocation to the presiding deity of the temple.
This spectacular classical dance drama of kerala based on the guidelines laid by sage bharatha's natya sastra, the ancient treatise on dance and drama, is over 500 years old. This elaborate art form is usually performed in the evenings and continues up to dawn, and is an integral part of all temple and cultural festivals in kerala.
This classical solo dance form combines the graceful elegance of bharatanatyam with the vigour and dynamism of kathakali, to create a mood that is predominantly sringara (erotic). The dance is usually performed on specially put up stages in connection with temple festivals. The costume is the traditional white mundu and melmundu of kerala. The hair is gathered and put up at the side of the head and adorned with jasmine, int the traditional style.
Kalampattu (kalamezhuthu pattu) is a folk art form that belongs to the northern regions of kerala. This art form, which is over 600 years old is performed by a group of five to fifteen people in bhadrakali and ayyappa temples. The ritual is performed around the kolam - an elaborate picture, usually of bhadrakali, drawn on the floor, using five colors
Kalaripayattu is the comprehensive system of martial arts of kerala, regarded as one of the oldest and most scientific in the world. Kalaripayattu training aims at the ultimate co-ordination of mind and body. The traditional training in a kalari includes specialisation in indigenous medical practices too. Kalaris are also centers of religious worship
Kaliyoottu is an eight day long colourful folk ritual which been acts the combat between goddess durga and the demon darika. The ritual is performed in different stages. The climax of the play - the ritual called paranettu - is performed on a specially constructed 100 feet high stage on the eighth day.
Kanniyarkali (deshathukali) is a ritual art dance from, which is performed to the accompaniment of devotional folk songs and the resounding beats of drum. It is usually performed in bhagavathy temples.
Kavadiyattam is a ritualistic dance form performed by devotees. The group of devotees wearing bright yellow or saffron costumes with ash smeared all over the body dances in a frenzy carrying kavadis on their shoulders. Kavadis are colourful bow shaped wooden structures raising six to ten feet tall.
Kolkali is a group dance form of the farming community in kerala. Twelve to twenty four dancers move rhythmically in a circle around the ceremonial lamp, tapping the two feet long wooden sticks held in their hands.
Thiruvathirakali is a classical dance form, which is a pointer to the old customs followed in the nair tharawads (joint families). In this dance form, the women of the house dance elegantly around the ceremonial lamp or floral decoration on festive occasions to the accompaniment of the thiruvathira pattu (song).
It is one of the most elaborate and spectacular martial folk arts of kerala. This ritual art form is usually presented within the temple premises and is called thirumumbil vela when performed before the deity and kulathilvela when performed near the temple pond.
Kerala Festivals
Kerala celebrates traditional, religious, state and national festivals. These festivals are full of messages depicting one or more aspects of human life, relationships or ancient traditions. Some of the popular festivals are briefed below.
Nishagandhi Dance Festival (April 5- 12)
The Tourism Development Corporation organises the dance festival. Leading artists of Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyattam, Kathak, Odissi, modern ballet and other folk form will perform at the open-air theatre of Nishagandhi in the Kanakakunnu Palace compound at Thiruvananthapuram.
Onam Festival (August - September)
Onam is a harvest festival celebrated throughout Kerala in August-September to welcome the yearly homecoming of the legendary King 'Mahabali' who was generous, just and kind. People decorate their homes, wear new cloths and hold special games and competitions.
Vetta & Arattu
This festival is celebrated twice in a year, once in Oct.-Nov. and other in March-April. Vetta represents Lord Vishnu hunting down the demon of evil in the forest
Thrissur Pooram
Thrissur Pooram is the most colourful temple festival of Kerala. The festival attracts large masses of devotees and tourists from all parts of Kerala. Celebrated in the Malayalam month of Medom (April-May) caparisoned elephant processions from neighbouring Krishna and Devi temples proceed to the Vadakunathan Temple.
Nehru Trophy Boat Race
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Kerala is the Nehru Trophy Snake Boat Race that began in 1952 when the erstwhile Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, visited Alappuzha. The race is held every year on the second Saturday of August. Many gigantic snake boats with 100 rowers in each representing different villages take part in the race. Another Nehru Trophy Boat Race is held in mid-January to promote tourism
It is a spectacular procession accompanied by caparisoned elephants and floats making the beginning of Onam Festival. Conducted at Thripunithura and Piravam, it displays folk and temple arts of Kerala.
Cochin Carnival
Celebrated in Kochi, The origin of the carnival is traced to the New Year celebration of the Portuguese during the colonial days. Noted for the unique games and competitions, the feast is observed during the last week of December with a grand procession on the New Year day.
Indira Gandhi Boat Race
The race is conducted in the Vembanad Lake (Kochi) during the last week of December to coincide with the tourism fair. Several snake boats representing different villages participate in this race.
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