Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala

Festivals at Sree Padmanabha Swami Temple

This famous Vishnu temple in Thiruvananthapuram city has Lord Vishnu as its principal deity, seen reclining on Anantha, the serpent.  The two major festivals here are in March / April (the Malayalam month Meenam). The festival flag is hoisted on the day of the Rohini asterism and concludes with the holy bath (aaratt) ceremony of the idol on the Atham asterism. For the festival in October / November (the Malayalam month Thulam) the festival flag is hoisted on the day of the Atham asterism and the aaratt is conducted on the day of the Thiruvonam asterism.

Both the festivals culminate with the the procession to the Shankumugham beach for the aaratt or the holy bath ceremony.

Painkuni Festival
This festival is celebrated in the Malayalam month of Meenam (March / April).  It starts with the kodiyettu - the hoisting of the festival flag on the day of the Rohini asterism. The ten-day long festival ends with the aaratt (holy bath) at Shankumugham beach on the day of the Atham astersim. On the first day, the festival flags are hoisted on the kodimaram or flag posts of Padmanabhaswami (the principal deity) and Thiruvambadi Krishnan.  On the ninth day of the festival, the head of Travancore Royal Family performs the palli vetta (royal hunt) ritual. A coconut is placed in a temporary trench and His Highness, the Maharaja of Travancore, who is considered as the representative of Lord Padmanabha will break the coconut by shooting an arrow. The aaratt is held on the tenth day. The aaratt procession will begin with the deities taken on palanquins that will circumambulate the temple twice and then exit the temple through the western gate. The head of the royal family along with other members of the family escort the deities during the procession. When the procession exits through the western gate of the temple, 1001 maroons (kathina) are burst.  The festival concludes with the aaratt at the Sanghumugham beach where the ritual immersion of idols (aaratt) in the sea is performed. The chief priests as well as the members of the royal family take part in the ritual immersion. After this ritual, the ceremonial flag is lowered.

Alppassi Festival
The name is derived from Tamil month of alppassi, which corresponds to the month of thulaam in the Malayalam calendar. All the rituals followed in Painkuni festival are repeated during the Alppassi festival too. The ceremonial flag is hoisted on the day of the Atham asterism and the ritual immersion or aaratt is celebrated on the day of Thiruvonam asterism.

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