Each and every festival in South India has a long history and unique origin, which enhances its value and tremendous importance. Being religious or secular in nature, every South Indian Festival has a deep meaning, often connected with the lessons of life and happiness.
Onam: Celebrated in Kerala, Onam is known for being a harvest and secular festival. People from different castes, religions and creeds come together to celebrate Onam. It is assumed that the mythical King Mahabali comes every year to have a look over his subjects during this period. The traditional dance Thiruvathira kali or Kaikotti kali is also performed during Onam. It is also known as the Festival of Rain Flowers. The first and last day of this ten day festival are the main days. Pookkalam, a multi-coloured decoration is painted by the people, in front of their homes during this festival.
Pongal: It is celebrated on 14th January in Tamil Nadu. The word ‘Pongal’ is Tamil language basically signifies the meaning ‘to boil over.’ In Tamil Culture, the milk boiling from the clay pot means prosperity in the household. In this festival, it is considered auspicious to offer boiled rice in milk to the Sun God. Food items made with sugar cane are served during this festival. Though, in the cities, it is only celebrated for one day, it normally is a four day long festival, consisting of these days- Bogi, Pongal, Mattu Pongal and Kanum Pongal.
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Hampi Festival: Also known as the Vijaya Utsav, the Hampi Festival is one of the largest festivals in Hampi. Celebrated in the first week of November, it includes events such as dance puppet shows, fireworks, music shows, pomp possessions, water sports and rock climbing. This festival is propagated by the Government of Karnataka.
Mysore Dasara: It is also known as the state festival of Karnataka. Summoned as Navratri in Northern India, this ten day festival starts from the day of Vijayadashami. It is celebrated in the months of September and October. According to Hindu mythology, it is believed that the Hindu Goddess Chamundeshwari killed the demon Mahishasura. This festival is celebrated in Karnataka from the very 15th century. More than 1 lakh light bulbs adorn the Mysore Palace during these ten days.
Karaga: Known as one of the oldest festivals of Karnataka, Karaga is one of the lauded festivals of the Thigala community in Karnataka. Hindu mythology reveals the that in the end of Mahabharata, it was Draupadi which protected the lives of Pandavas. Thus, it is believed that during the festivity of Karaga, the power of Draupadi can be felt in the ambience. It is a nine day long festival and generally takes place in the month of March and April.
Ugadi: The term Ugadi means the beginning of the new Age. It is celebrated to mark the beginning of the Hindu lunar calender. Numerous traditional dishes are also cooked during this festival, like the delicious chutney called as Ugadi Pachadi. In different parts of India, Ugadi is called by different names, for example, it is called as Baisakhi in Punjab and Gudi Padwa in Maharashtra.
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Vishu: It is celebrated as the New year in Kerala in the month of April. Vishupadakkam or bursting of crackers and decoration with lights is one of the prime attractions of the festival. Vishukkaineetam is the tradition of giving money during this festival. Vishukkani is the first thing to be seen after getting up on the day of Vishu. It basically consists of fruits, rice, metal mirror, betel leaves, yellow flowers, coins etc.
Thrissur Pooram: Lauded as one of the important temple festivals in Kerala, Thrissur Pooram is heald at Vadakkunnathan Temple in Thrissur. It is a secular festival and thus, religious considerations are not important for the celebration of this festival. The Maharaja of Cochin, known as Raja Rama Verma started this custom of Thrissur Pooram in 1798. As per the Malayalam Calender, it is celebrated every year in the month of April.
Chithirai Thiruvizha: This festival is celebrated in the Chitirai Month of the Tamil Calender which falls in the month of April. It is a one month long festival, in which the first fifteen days are meant for worshipping Meenkashi, the reincarnation of Goddess Parvati. The last fifteen days are celebrated for the Alagar, who is a reincarnation of Lord Vishnu.
Mahamaham Festival: After every 12 years, this festival is celebrated in the Kumbakonam town in Tamil Nadu. It is considered auspicious to take a holy dip in the Mahamaham tank during this day. It is celebrated when the planet Jupiter enters the Leo sign. “Theerthavari” is the custom of all the deities from the temples in the Kumbakonam town having a bathe in the tank along with the devotees. It is considered as a purification bath.
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Travel to South India and unravel the beauty of these festivals. They would definitely leave an indelible imprint on your memory, endowing and meaning of life.