Festivals & Fairs in Trivandrum

Trivandrum  celebrates a plethora  of festivals almost all through the year with color, vigor, pomp and grandeu.   Each and every community and religion celebrate festivals throughout the year and all the  festivals occur in a quick succession .  The city celebrates major  festivals like Onam,  Bakrid ,Arat,  and Attukal Pongala with enthusiasm. Similarly, Christmas, Easter, Good Friday are celebrated with much fanfare by the Christian community.

Trivandrum  has become a hub of free cultural events staged in open-air theatre including concerts by foreign musical groups.The international film festival takes place  in March and cultural festival such as  classical dances and music takes place regularly in the different venues . Apart from these, the city annually hosts several events like the Flower & Aquariam show, Air Show and  shopping fests, which are welcomed by the city dwellers with zest.


Onam  is the biggest and most important festival of the year in Kerala celebrated in the months of August-September.  It is a harvest festival that also marks the start of the  Malayalam New Year Chingam.  It is welcomed  by all Keralites  regardless of their caste and religion.
Onam is a colourful festival where human and nature joins together to celebrate the return of  the legendary King Mahabali  who once ruled the land.


It is the festival of flowers, colors,  feasts, dances, games and moreover of togetherness and all-round merriment.  Onam  begins with stunning traditional ‘pookulams’ or floral arrangements laid out on the ground.   Onam is celebrated for 10 days starting from the Atham day to the Thiruvonam Day and is  marked by  various events such as Athapoo (flower) contests in schools and colleges.  In keeping with modern times, celebrations also include a few shopping extravaganzas for some new  clothes.

culture-of-kerala_img1attapoohswing -onam




People decorate their homes with fresh flower mats known as Pookalam to welcome King Mahabali. They wear new dresses, go to temples to worship God and perform puja.   Swings or Oonjal are put up  and the  swinging ceremony  is another important part of Onam  festivities.

Onam is also a family event- it is a time for family reunion .  Family members who live overseas or outside Kerala  join  the rest of the family  during Onam  season.  Another  tradition is  a grand lunch called Sadya on  Thiruonam day  which is a vegetarian feast or banquet. The multi course meal is served traditionally in banana leaves.   A typical Onam sadya consist of 24-28 dishes and includes 3 varieties of paysam as desert.  Traditionally, all the dishes for the sadya are made at home because the women in the family found it the best way to spend some good time together.  Nowadays many families go out to restaurants to  have onam sadya.  Most restaurants prepare onam sadya and also deliver the meals  to ones homes.

onam sadyaThe best time to visit Trivandrum  is during the Onam festival when the city is illuminated, wears a festive look and the people are in a jovial mood.  A huge week-long Onam celebration  takes  place at around 20 venues in Trivandrum. The festivities include stage shows (drama and classical dance), folk art, food stalls, and handicrafts. The main venue for cultural events are free of vehicular traffic in the evening hours so that people can walk freely and enjoy the sights, sounds and sample varieties of food.

_LMS Vellayambalam Rd_Richtone(HDR)

onam illumin

Onam  festivities  culminates in a grand parade on the last day, complete with floats and processions of decorated elephants and fireworks.

onam elephant

onam procession


Vishu Festival

konna blooms pick


The festival of Vishu is the astronomical New Year day that  falls on the first day of Malayalam month Medam (April). There are certain rituals associated with Vishu, which is followed religiously by devout Hindu families. The Vishukani ritual is observed  with  the belief that, as it is the beginning  of a new year, the fortunes for the year depends upon the first object one sees in the morning of Vishu Day. This first sight is called  the “Vishukani  which  is prepared the previous night of Vishu in their homes by the oldest member of the family.  The family members are supposed to view it only after midnight. The flowers of the golden shower tree konna(Cassia fistula ) are used for the kanni and the dominant color of the festival is yellow. Konna  is the state flower of Kerala and Konna tree was depicted on a 20-rupees stamp.  The konna tree blooms in the roads and many courtyards of homes around this time, which is a pretty sight. Vishukani is arranged inside the sanctum of all shrines in the Temple complex and people visit the temples on this occasion.


masgid mosque

The Festival of Id-ul-Zuha or Bakrid is celebrated with great enthusiasm among Muslims . Special prayers and exchange of greetings and gifts mark the Id-ul-Zuha (Bakrid). This is a festival of sacrifice,celebrated with traditional fervour and gaiety  throughout India.  In Trivandrum, there is a large gathering in the bakrid- womenJuma Masjid Mosque in the center of the city . The day normally starts with men and women dressed in the best outfits , visiting the mosque to pray. The large gathering extends to the nearby stadium  After the prayer is over, the people greet one another and visit their friends and relatives. Special dinner and delicacies are prepared and served among family and friends on this occasion.


Christmas_Crib_(2013)_in_Christ_Nagar_NeyyattinkaraChristmas is the most important festival for the Christian community in Kerala which constitute about 23 per cent of Kerala’s population .  Christmas is the festival of universal love and  is celebrated in honour of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God which falls on the 25th of December. Christmas is a joyous season and is celebrated in Kerala, in more or less the same way as it is celebrated in other parts of the world, with Christmas stars,  cribs, carols, concerts, greeting cards and family reunions.  The Christmas tree,  the Christmas cake, presents, and  Christmas Father  is the star attraction for children.

Christmas is celebrated well in all its glory and cultural forms.  At Christmas time, Christian homes are decorated with a Christmas star in order to denote the pointer star that revealed the birth of Jesus and pointed the way to the three wise kings (Magi).  In Christian tradition, the Star of Bethlehem, also called the Christmas Star, which  revealed the birth of Jesus to the Biblical Magi,  later led them to Bethlehem.  Christmas star is very symbolic and indicates peace and happiness. Stars are also  used to decorate the home, Christmas tree and crib.  star

On the day of Christmas a grand feast is prepared and the main dish is usually  meat.  Another main item is the Christmas cake. Families get together  for family  reunion.  An important symbol for Christmas is the Christmas tree.  You will find interesting  decorated Christmas tree in the houses during Christmas season, churches and  hotels. The  crib decoration  depicting the Nativity scene is very speical.  This scene  represents a miniature stable where Jesus was born.   Figures of infant Jesus, Mother Mary, Joseph, angels, sheep, shepherds and three kings  are all arranged in the crib. A holiday wreathe is another decorative item which is hung in front of the main door of the house. It  serves  as  a warm welcome to the guests and create a Christmas atmosphere.  On Christmas Eve as well as on Christmas morning, special prayers are conducted in churches across the city  Carol service  from various churches  visit  homes  during the Christmas week. Christmas pageants and concerts  are  held   in  many  churches  in the city.  xmas-lmsxmas =palayam


nativity scene decorations

Though the Christmas tree is a comparatively new addition to Christmas celebrations in Kerala.  it is the twinkling Christmas star  and balloons put up at Christian homes or shops which sets the tone for a season of cheerfulness and joy.christmas decorations

Children in the Trivandrum  adoption center also get a chance to celebrate Christmas and receive goodies and gifts from Santa Claus.  Celebrites join in to bring Christmas cheer to the children.

santa claus adoption center

christmas images

Some Church  members  visit the old age homes in the city to spread the Christmas message, sing  carols  and present gifts.  These days, Christmas lunch/dinner  including  goodies associated with Christmas are   readily  available in local hotels and restaurants. Keeping in line with the secular tradition of Kerala, many non-Christians also participate in some of  the Christmas celebrations.  Christmas festivities continues with fervor during the week and beyond  leading  to New Year.

New Years  Celebration


new year 2015

The New-year eve is  always celebrated with great vigour and energy in the city .  The city gets  into  a celebratory mood with prominent hotels throwing  grand parties to make December 31st a truly memorable night. Various cultural programs  are also arranged in different parts of the city during the New year’s Eve.  Almost all churches hold midnight services and  members greet  each  other after the service.  The city together invites the New year at midnight with  sound  of fire crackers  and  the church bells herald the arrival of New Year. Police personnel takes extra precaution to ensure security and safety for the church and party goers.  Kovalam beach is the place where most  foreigners  and younger generation flock  to celebrate New Year.

World’s Largest Ginger Bread Village, Kovalam

village ginger bread


The   “World’s Largest Ginger Bread Village”  was created and open to the public last December 2014  by Uday Samudra Leisure Beach Hotel & Spa located in  Kovalam.  It was  an innovative and attractive way of celebrating the last festival of the year.    Spread over an area of 504 square feet and having a weight of 2.28 tons, this spectacular  village was created to coincide with Christmas and New Year celebrations.  A complete village was  made up of Gingerbread representing  residences, forests, mountains, waterfalls, railway stations, places of worship, schools,  hospitals, commercial and government buildings.  It was  very detailed oriented  and included clock tower, hanging bridge, flora & fauna, as well as bicycles, cars, well-lit streets, banks and ATMs. This exciting project was conceived  and created by Pastry Chef Mr.Kishore with the support of Chief Chef Rhynold, and  team.  In making their very own gingerbread village their aim  was to break the world record set in the USA in 2013.  This stunning  Gingerbread village drew a large crowd and positive response from  visitors  around the globe.  A repeat of the Gingerbread village is likely in 2015.


Easter is a spring festival held sometime between March and April. Easter is celebrated as the religious holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Thousands of Christians congregate for prayers in churches of various denominations across the state, where priests give out the message of hope and revival as  symbolized  by the occasion. The day also marks the end of the Holy Week of prayers and penitence recalling the final phase of Christ’s life from his arrest and crucifixion, followed by resurrection. Breaking the 40-day season of Lent when believers shun worldly pleasures, sumptuous traditional feasts are arranged in most Christian homes. Eggs have been a symbol of spring since ancient times and of Easter.  An egg also is a symbol of the rock tomb out of which Christ emerged when he arose again. The hatching of a  chick from  the egg, symbolizes new life or re-birth.

christ imagecross-easter



arat elepimages-arat

Arattu occur twice a year and the processions are held from Sri Padmanabha Swamy Temple to Shangumugam Beach. The idols from the Temple are taken to the sea for a holy dip.

The head of the Travancore royal family  leads the procession with the royal sword in hand, who is escorted by members of the Royal family, decorated elephants, armed guards, temple authorities, mounted police, police band and officers. On the Arattu day, images of three deities are taken in procession to the Arabian sea at Shanghumugham beach.  After the ceremonial bath in Shanghumugham, the images are taken back in procession which marks the conclusion of the festival. Cultural performances including the Kathakali are part of the celebrations in certain locations.

-arat procession

umbrella arat

arat flight path

An interesting aspect of the Arat procession is that it winds its way from the temple to the seashore by taking the most direct route, which involves passing through the city’s airport.  Even today, the Trivandrum  airport’s flight operations are paused while the Arat procession passes through the airport. The procession moves along the 3,398-metre runway under the watchful eyes of the Aviation Security Group personnel.  Flight operations from the airport resume after the idols are moved along the runway back to the temple.  On its return from the beach, the only difference is that the procession moves with the way lit by traditional torches. The runway has remained closed during the festival for decades since the reign of Sree Chitra Tirunal Balarama Varma and after Independence. This tradition continues with the full cooperation of the  authorities.

Attukal Pongala


South-indian-festivalsThis festival is celebrated around February, every year, at Attukal Bhagavati Temple in the city. The uniqueness of this festival is that it is that only women are allowed to do the offering on that day. The long line of women absorbed in devotion and also preparing this ritual offering can be seen all the way till the East Fort and farther.  As it is a ‘Ladies Special’ festival, men are not supposed be in the proximity.

attugal expat.attukak-1

On the 9th day of the festival , thousands of women devotees from many parts of the state gather  near  the templed beyond   to prepare pongala,  They prepare pongala by cooking jaggery, coconut and banana in certain proportions and offer to the goddess. ‘Pongala’, is considered to be the Goddess’s favourite. It is a kind of sweet porridge. The ritual starts early morning and ends by afternoon. Elaborate arrangements are made for the safety and security of the devotees. The Attukal festival has gained world wide attention and women from foreign countries are sometimes seen participating in this festival.

Kovalam Festivals
The rich culture and uniqueness of Kerala  is well reflected in the Kovalam Festivals and fairs held here.  The main festivals here start in January and ends in March. The The festivals held here echoes a lot about the tradition and also the friendliness of  people of Kerala .  The best thing about the festival is that there are several elements in a festival which pleases everyone.

katta tvmviilage fair

Village fair of Kovalam

It represents the rural  village.  Known as the “Gramam”- an entire village of the bygone days of  Kerala is recreated with artisans, Nalukettu (traditional house), temple, astrologer etc., so that the visitors will be able to see and visualize how people of rural Kerala  lived in those days. The festival lasts for a week from 3rd January. The village is set near Kovalam with displays of cultural performances like kathakali, koodiyattam, kalaripayattu, theyyam  an d handicrafts shops .  Events are also held at Vellar Tourist Village (the Kovalam Tourist Village), on the outskirts of Trivandrum near the Kovalam junction.

The Fandango or Food Festival is another  popular event in Kovalam. It is also a three-day festival organized in January. The festival  has  many stalls of different varieties of foods. You can taste   Kerala shrimp dishes, Ethnic Kerala, Tandoor, Seafood, Pastry, Sweets, Biryani etc. Some cultural programs  are also staged  here  which  brings additional excitement to the festival.


The Elephant Festival

kovalam elephantVillage fair of KovalamThis is an  annual  three-day festival  starting on 9th January. The objective of the festival is to gain the blessings of elephants. Elephants look majestic with their adornment and they move around the whole area of the festival accompanied by chenda melam (traditional instrumental music of Kerala).

If you are an elephant lover,  it is a great opportunity to see these massive mammals  at close quarters.


About jessiesatyanesan

Live in Trivandrum
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