A trip to God's own country

An introduction

Kerala is a state in the south-west region of India on the Malabar Coast. It was formed on 1 November 1956. It is bordered by Karnataka to the north and north-west, Tamil Nadu to the east and south and The Laccadive Sea to the west. The state is divided into 14 districts. Malayalam is the most widely spoken language. The capital of Kerala is Thiruvananthapuram.

Culture of Kerala

The culture of Kerala is a synthesis of Aryan and Dravidian cultures, developed and mixed for centuries under influences from other parts of India and abroad. The Indian state of Kerala is well known for its diverse forms of performing art. The state is home to over 50 performing arts.

Performing arts

Kerala has several tribal and folk art forms. For example, Kummattikali is the famous colorful mask-dance of South Malabar, performed during the festival of Onam. The Kannyar Kali dances are fast moving, militant dances attuned to rhythmic devotional folk songs and asuravadyas. Margam Kali is one of the ancient round group dance of Kerala practiced by Saint Thomas Cristians. In recent decades, Malayalam Cinema, yet another mode of widely popular artistic expression, have provided a distinct and indigenous Keralite alternative.


Kerala is home to a number of dance and artforms. Several dance forms which originated in Kerala are today popular worldwide.


Originated over 500 years ago, Kathakali is a spectacular classical dance form of Kerala. It is a combination of drama, dance, music and ritual. Kathakali is one of the oldest theatre forms in the world. The word 'Katha' in Malayalam means Story and 'kali' means Play. Thus Kathakali literally means 'Story-Play'.


Kaikottikkali, also known as Thiruvathirakali, is a very popular group dance of Kerala. Thiruvathirakali is performed by the women of Hindu community, often during festive seasons like Onam and the Thiruvathira day in the Malayalam month of Dhanu (December- January).


Theyyam other wise known as Kaliyattam or Thirayattam, is one of the most outstanding folk arts of Kerala. Just as the name Kaliyattam indicates, it is a sacred ritual dance performed to glorify the goddess Kaali. The term 'Theyyam' is supposed to be the corrupt form of the Malayalam word 'Daivam', meaning God.It earned the name Thirayattam as every thira or village performed this ritualistic art at the village temple known as kaavu.


Mohiniyattam, also spelled Mohiniattam,is a classical dance form from Kerala, India. It is considered a very graceful form of dance meant to be performed as solo recitals by women. The term Mohiniyattam comes from the words "Mohini" meaning a woman who enchants onlookers and "aattam" meaning graceful and sensuous body movements. The word "Mohiniyattam" literally means "dance of the enchantress".


Ottamthullal or Ottanthullal‍, pronounced is a performance art from Kerala, India. This art was founded by Kunjan Nambiar one of the Prachina Kavithrayam in Malayalam. The art form was created during the 18th century by legendary Malayalam poet Kalakkaththu Kunchan Nambiar. Ottamthullal shows often make fun of prevalent socio political equations and prejudices of the region.

Music of kerala

The music of Kerala has a long and rich history. Kerala has a rich tradition in Carnatic music. With the development of music in the region, different branches were formed out of it. Let us take a view through some of them.

classical music

Kerala is musically known for Sopanam. Sopana Sangeetham is a form of classical music originated in temples of Kerala. Sopanam is religious in nature, and developed through singing invocatory songs at the Kalam of Kali, and later inside temples.Keralais musically known for Sopanam. Sopana Sangeetham is a form of classical music originated in temples of Kerala. Sopanam is religious in nature, and developed through singing invocatory songs at the Kalam of Kali, and later inside temples. Kerala is also home of Carnatic music. Legends like Swati Tirunal, Eraiumman Thampy, Shadkala Govinda Maarar, Chembai Vidyanantha Bhagavatar, Yesudas, etc. are renowned musical exponents from Kerala. Kerala also has a significant presence of Hindusthani music as well. The king of Travancore, Swathi Tirunal patronaged and contributed much to the Hindustani Music.

Kathakali music

The language of the songs used for Kathakali is Manipravalam, a mixture of Malayalam and Saskrit. Even though most of the songs are set in ragas based on the microtone-heavy Carnatic music, there is a distinct style of plain-note rendition, which is known as the Sopanam style. This typically Kerala style of rendition takes its roots from the temple songs which used to be sung at the time when Kathakali was born.The foremost artist was Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair.

Mappila Pattu

The Malabar region of the state, with a large Muslim population had developed a signature music stream based on the Hindustani style. The stream consists of a variety of forms like gazals and mappila pattu, and also music for authentic Muslim dance forms such as oppana and kol kali. The poetry forms a main part of this stream of music, which is primarily in Malayalam with the use of Arabic words in between which is known as arabimalayalam. Mappila songs have a charm of their own as their tunes sound a mix of the ethos and culture of Kerala as well as West Asia. They deal with diverse themes such as religion, love, satire and heroism.

pulluvan pattu

Thepulluvar of Kerala are closely connected to the serpent worship. One group among these people consider the snake gods as their presiding deity and perform certain sacrifices and sing songs. This is called Pulluvan Pattu. This is performed in the houses of the lower castes as well as those of the higher castes, in addition to serpent temples.

Festivals of Kerala

Kerala, God’s own country is noted for its communal concord, rich culture and heritage. The spirit of gaiety and jubilation always pervades the ambience of Kerala. Thus Kerala is also known as the land of fairs and festivities. The major religions of Kerala are Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. Therefore, the fistivals are celebrated from all three religions.


Onam or Thiruvonam, the harvest and national festival of Kerala is celebrated annually in the first Malayalam month of Chingom (August-September) in an outstanding manner for ten days.Onam festival is basically the harvest fiesta of the Malayalees and is mythically related to the Malayalee-Hindu legends.


Vishu is one of the most important Hindu Festivals that is celebrated in Kerala and other adjacent regions of Tamil Nadu on the first day of the Malayalum month of Medam. Vishu is considered as the beginning of the New Year by the Keralites. They commonly believe that the fortunes of the forthcoming year depend on the object first seen by them in the morning of Vishu day. After observing these ceremonial rites, the people then spend the day by rejoicing and bursting crackers. All the members of the family together have a grand Vishu feast known as 'sadya'.


Ramadan is observed in the ninth month of the lunar year and is an important festival of the Muslims. Actually Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic Calendar Year; when the "Holy Koran or Quran" was send as a counsel from heaven by Allah or God for the well being of mortals in 615 AD. Muslims observe the Ramadan month by fasting rigorously to attain purification of the soul and body and to become more close to the divine being-God. This religious rite of fasting during Ramadan is known as "Sawm". The end of Ramdan marks the beginning of Id-Ul-Fitr (Feast of Fast-Breaking) which is celebrated for 3 days.


Bakrid, the festival of sacrifice is observed by Muslims all over India as well as the world. This festival is celebrated to memorialize the sacrifice of Hazrat Ibrahim, who voluntarily killed his son at God’s command. The dawn of Bakrid in Kerala and other parts of the world reverberates with the sound of Thakhir (Allahu Akbar), asserting that the God is great. In Kerala, Bakrid is celebrated particularly as the occasion for confluence of the notable members of sister communities.


Easter, the oldest festival of the Christians is celebrated to commemorate the most important tenet of Christianity-The Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter is celebrated in Kerala with the same zeal and staidness as it is celebrated all over the world. Easter, the oldest festival of the Christians is celebrated to commemorate the most important tenet of Christianity-The Resurrection of Jesus Christ (the rising of Christ on the third day after the Crucifixion). Easter is celebrated in Kerala with the same zeal and staidness as it is celebrated all over the world.


Christmas, celebrated throughout the world as the birthday of the Saviour Jesus Christ, is the festival of universal love. Now a large number of affluent Christian Communities live in Kerala. So Christmas is celebrated in Kerala with great pomp and vigor. By celebrating the solemn festival of Christmas, the message of unconditional love, brotherhood and compassion is circulated everywhere.

cuisine of kerala

The cuisine of Kerala is linked in all its richness to the history, geograaphy, demography and culture of the land. Kerala cuisine has a multitude of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes


Kerala cuisine offers many delicious vegetarian breakfast dishes that are often relatively unknown outside the state. These include puttu and kadala, idli, sambar, dosa and chutney, pidiyan, idiyappam , Paal-appam. Idiyapam and Paalappam are accompanied by mutton, chicken or vegetable stew or fish moli. In North Malabar area,breakfast is known as Kathaladakkal and Praathal in rest of Kerala. Almost all the dishes of kerala uses coconut oil for cooking purposes.


The staple food of Kerala, like most South-Indian states, is rice. Rice is usually consumed with one or more curries. Accompaniments with rice may include upperis , rasam, chips, and/or buttermilk (called moru). Kerala cooking uses coconut oil almost exclusively. Popular vegetarian dishes include sambar, aviyal, thoran, kaalan, pulisherry, olan,erisherry, pulinji, kappa, cherupayaru, etc. Vegetarian dishes often consist of fresh spices. Common non-vegetarian dishes include stew, traditional or chicken curry, chicken fry, beef fry, fish/chicken/mutton/beef molly, fish curry, fish fry, prawn fry, Spicy Steamed Fish, etc. Malabar Biriyani is one of the tasty non vegetarian dishes in North Kerala. The main variants are Thalassery biriyani and Kozhikode biryani.


Kerala is known for its traditional banquet or sadhya, a vegetarian meal served with boiled rice and a host of side-dishes served especially during special occasions and festivals. The sadhya is complemented by payasam, a sweet dessert native to Kerala. The sadhya is, as per custom, served on a banana leaf, and is a formal-style meal with three or more courses of rice with a side-dish . In south Kerala the Payasam in followed by moru and rasam whereas in North Malabar it is considered to be the last dish to be served.


Vegetarian dinners usually consist of multiple courses, each involving rice, one main dish , and one or more side-dishes. Although rice and tapioca may be considered the original Kerala starch staples, wheat, in the form of chappathis or parathas ,is now very commonly eaten at dinner time. Numerous little streetside vendors offer an oily paratha with meat, egg, or vegetable curry for dinner. Grains such as ragi and millet, although common in the arid parts of South India, have not gained a foothold in Kerala

To enjoy all of these pay a visit to Kerala, God's Own Country