Three unique festivals that transcend religious barriers

Festivals are a way of life in Kerala. And there are a lot of carnivals that transcend the religious barriers and form part and parcel of the cultural framework. Here's a list of three festivals that are coming up. Make sure to add them to your itinerary. 

Rayiranellur Malakayattam (climbing the hill at Rayiranellur)

Rayiranellur hill near Pattambi is a place steeped in legends. Naranathu Branthan or the 'madman of Naranam' from the legend of Parayipetta Panthirukulam or the Clan of Twelve is said to have rolled up heavy boulders, pushed them down and clapped with joy as he watched them vanish down this hill. But, he was no madman. He was a mystic and his act of rolling stones up the hill is often considered allegorical and has been applied to social critiquing for myriad contexts.

Three unique festivals that transcend religious barriers
The statue of Naranathu Branthan on the Rayiranellur hills. Photo: Onmanorama

A trek up the hill on the first day of the Malayalam month of Thulam (mid-October) is considered auspicious and thousands walk it. To pray at the temple of mother goddess and bow before a statue dedicated to Naranathu Branthan, they say will answer all your prayers. 

Read more about the ritual

Punarjani Noozal (A journey for salvation)

Thiruvilwamala, a sleepy hamlet on the Thrissur-Palakkad border, is famous for its ancient temple dedicated to Lord Ram. And about two kilometers away is the  Punarjani Guha, a cave through which thousands crawl through on a particular day to attain salvation. Known as the 'Punarjani Noozhal', this ritual is observed on the Ekadasi day in the Malayalam month of Vrishchikam (November-December).

Three unique festivals that transcend religious barriers
A devotee coming out of the cave. Photo: Onmanorama

According to the legend, Punarjani Guha was made so that Lord Vishnu could get reparation for having destroyed the Kshatriyas. Thousands gather at the cave on Ekadasi day and it is just men who are allowed to do this ritual because the cave is very narrow and dark - with just streaks of light passing through. 

Read more about the ritual here

Kalpathi Ratholsavam (chariot festival at Kalpathi)

Do you love crowds and losing yourself in the festivities? Welcome to Kalpathi, a traditional Brahmin settlement in Palakkad built around the Lord Viswanatha Temple which is said to over 700 years old. The Ratholsavam or the chariot festival is held over a period of ten days, but the last three are the most spectacular. Thousands gather at Kalpathi to draw the chariot through its streets. 

Three unique festivals that transcend religious barriers
The chariots. Photo: Onmanorama

Read more about the ritual here

Here's a look at the colourful festivals that spice up life in God's Own Country

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