Onam is the most biggest festival in Kerala. It is the National Festival of Kerala with State holidays for 4 days starting from Onam Eve (Uthradom) to the 4rd Onam Day. Its also one of the most secular festivals. All religions and communities celebrate Onam with equal enthusiasm. Onam Festival falls during the Malayalam month of Chingam (Aug - Sep) and marks the homecoming of mythical King Mahabali who Malayalees consider as their King. Onam is a reminiscent of Kerala's agrarian past, as its considered to be harvest festival.
Vishu falls on Malayalam Month of Medam 1st (normally 14th or 15th or 16th day of April). Its considered as Astronomic New Year, as its the day when Sun enters into Tropic of Cancer. Its considered to be the most auspicious day to start anything new. Though it doesn't have as much as glitz that Onam has, still Vishu is an important day in Kerala, more famous for its VishuSadhya (Vishu Feast), Kainettam (First Gift by elders to young on start of New Year) and ofcourse shopping, due Vishu's legend of getting new on this day.
Christmas is one of the Biggest festival in Kerala, thanks to strong Christian community. Today Xmas has moved more a secular festival than a religious festival. The days starting from 23rd of Dec till 2nd of Jan is considered as most festive days in a year, with terrific shopping, parties, parades and the entire air is filled with festivities organized by many. Parades on X'mas Eves in major Churches are worth to watch and special masses in churches as well as Xmas feast are something that anybody wish for.
NEW YEAR EVE
New Year Eve on Dec 31st is a major festival in many Kerala cities, as anywhere else. The highlight of New Year festival is at Kochi, with the famous Cochin Carnival and Lighting of Papanai (a tradition inherited from Portuguese). The New Year is welcomed at Kochi, by lighting a huge effigy of Santa-like figure called Papanai exactly at stroke of midnight believed to bid adieu to former year and light to welcome New Year. This is followed by a very gala party with dance and music till morning. These festivities happen in Fort Cochin.
Thrissur Pooram is called Festivals of Festivals, marking the biggest and most gala temple festival. Its actually a competition of festivities between two temples and nearly parades of 30 to 50 decorated elephants along with huge temple orchestration normally associated by 150 to 200 musicians happen, making it a visual treat. Apart from that, heavy temple decors and special lighting will be erected across the city and the most famous part is its heavy fireworks which is normally considered as one of the world's longest fireworks.
Navarathiri season is marked with Parade of Kerala Police from the city to nearby SreePadmanabhapuram Palace in Nagerkovil district of Tamil Nadu to bring the Royal Idols of GoddessWith the Parade of Armed Police, Mounted Police Battalions, Palace Guards, Members of Royal Family, the idols are brought to Thiruvanathapuram city and placed in Ramanar Palace near to SreePadmanabha temple for the nine nights.
SREE PADMANBHA'S ARATTU
The Sree Padmanbha's Arattu is again a Royal Procession of Lord SreePadmanabha, the presiding deity of the Temple, happening twice in a year. As Lord SreePadmanabha was the National Deity of the Travancore Kingdom who adored the title of Emperor of the Erstwhile Kingdom, the procession is considered one of the last legacy of royal heritage, with Kerala Police, Indian Army, Air force making its obligation to the Lord. This was part of the British tradition, when Royal Indian Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy saluted the lord with 21 gun salute.