Ekadasi festival ( Nov - Dec)

Ekadasi, the eleventh day of every lunar fortnight, is very auspicious to the Hindus. Of the 24 Ekadasis in an year, the Vrishchika Ekadasi (Suklapaksha) has got special significance in Guruvayur. It falls in the Mandala season. The Navami (9th day) and Dasami (10th day) are also very important. Ekadasi Vilakku starts a month before the Ekadasi day as offerings by different persons, families and organisations. On Navami day, the Vilakku is lit with ghee as an offering by Kolady family. The Dasami Vilakku which used to be an offering of Zamorin Raja, is now conducted by Guruvayurappan Sankeerthana Trust. After the temple is open on this day for Nirmalya darshan ( 3.00AM ), it is closed only at 9.00 am on Dwadasi Day (12th day), thus allowing continues darshan for devotees throughout Dasami and Ekadasi Days. Until the temple entry for all Hindus in 1947, Avarnas (lower caste) were allowed to come up to Thiyyarambalam on Dasami day (in between Manjulal and Eastern Gopuram). On Dwadasi day there is a custom of offering a token amount called Dwadasi Panam in Koothambalam for the welfare of the family.
A highlight of the Ekadasi is the memorial honour for Gajarajan Kesavan . The Karanavar or head of the elephant family places a wreath at the statue of Kesavan in front of Sreevalsam guest house and all the other elephants stand around and pay obeisance. On Ekadasi day, the Udayasthamana Pooja (continuous pooja) is conducted by the Devaswom itself . After the morning seeveli, on Ekadasi there is a grant elephant procession to the Parthasarathi temple since it is regarded as Geethopadesam Day also. On Ekadasi after night pooja the famous Ekadasi Vilakku with elephant procession takes place and provides a fitting finale to the festival.

Other religious festivals


Mandala pooja begins on the first day of the Malayalam month of Vrishchikam. This is a period of 41 days for the pilgrimage to the shrine of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala. Most of the devotees who go to Sabarimala also visit Guruvayur.
At Guruvayur, there will be special abhishekam with panchagavya (mixture of five products of cow - milk, curd, ghee, urine and cow dung) on all days. Many devotees visit the shrine to partake of it, since it is believed to burn up all inner impurities. Chakkiyar Koothu takes place after lunch. Krishnanattam may be performed after Athazha pooja . Mandalam comes to end with Kalabhaattam (pouring mixture of sandal paste, saffron, camphor and rose water) on the deity. This special offering is made only once in a year and it is the hereditary privilege of the Zamorin Rajas.
Besides, the three seevelis during mandalam will be conducted with three elephants and they take five rounds around the temple. The famous Guruvayur Ekadasi festival, Melpathur statue installation day, Narayaneeyam day and Kuchela day also occur during Mandalam, thus making it the busiest season at Guruvayur. During this season, special arrangements are made for 'kettunira' and 'malayidal' in front of the Sastha shrine inside the temple.


Of the 9 days of the Navarathri festival, the last three days are specially sacred for goddess Saraswathy who presides over the world of learning and fine arts. Children are initiated into learning on the last day known as Vidyarambham day. The training in Krishnanattam, Kathakali, Kalaripayattu, (traditional martial art-form of Kerala) etc. generally begins on this day.


On the Uthradam day of the month of Chingam (August- September), thousands of devotees bring "Kazhcha kulas" (bunches of Banana) as offering to the Lord. These bananas are given to all the elephants of Guruvayur Devaswom on the same day or next day. On Thiruvonam day, free Onam feast with Pazhaprathaman is given to thousands of devotees.


Ashtami Rohini in Chingam (August-September) is the birthday of Lord Krishna. Appam and Palpayasam are considered to be important offerings on this day. Special feast is arranged for the devotees.


It means new rice. It is a formal beginning of the use of rice from the new harvest season for offering in the temple. Puthari payasam is offered to Lord; it takes place in the month of Chingam.


The Vaishakha is the lunar month starting from new moon of Medam (April-May). The Vaishakha vratham (fast) is auspicious and sacred to Vishnu. The vratham can be followed in the routine of morning ablutions , feeding the poor, keeping fast, taking prasadams from the offerings to the Lord and participating in the divine discourses. The third day of this month - Akshaya-thrithiya - birth day of Balarama, is the most auspicious. Palpayasam is the main offering and feast is also arranged during the entire Vaishakha month.


The first day of Medam ( mid April) is the new year day for Malayalees. People believe that the fortunes for the next year depend on the nature of the objects one sees in the morning of Vishu. For this purpose, Kani (an omen) with articles like yellow flowers, rice, betel nuts, golden coins etc. is displayed in front of the deity. Thousands prefer to see Kani at Guruvayur on Vishu morning. Crowds stay overnight inside the courtyard of temple, which is specially permitted on this day. They close their eyes and set their eyes on the Kani and deity, as the doors are opened at 2.30 am for darshan.


The first Wednesday of the month of Dhanu (December) is celebrated as Kuchela Dinam. It is based on the belief that it was on this day that Kuchela, an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna offered Avil (parched rice) to him and in return attained eternal bliss and material property . Avil offering is considered auspicious on this day.


The Samkrama Sandhyas, a very auspicious occasion for worship of the Lord, is observed by the devotees on the eve of each Malayalam month in the spirit of intense devotion and piety. Thousands of people stream in to the temple for a darshan of the Lord at the time of Deeparadhana. Spiritual discourses and various cultural programmes befitting Hindu faith are held at Melpathur Auditorium.

Other Cultural Festivals


It is actually a part of Ekadasi festival, which is conducted for 15 days and attracts more than 2000 Carnatic musicians. This music festival is in commemoration of Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagawathar who was a doyen of Carnatic music and an ardent devotee of the Lord Guruvayurappan. It is almost a replica of Saint Thyagaraja festival. Earlier it was a three day festival but with the phenomenal rise in the number of participants, the period was extended with artists of all types - young, old, novices, experts, vocalists and instrumentalists are allowed to participate. The highlights of the Utsavam are group singing of saint Thyagaraja's Pancharatna Krithis on Dasami day by several leading artists. All India Radio and Doordharsan telecast the last few days’ programmmes live.


The day on which Narayaneeyam was completed, 28th Vrichikam, is celebrated by the Devaswom as Narayaneeyam day. Discourses and debates on Narayaneeyam written by Melpathur take place. Special functions are held at Melpathur Illapparambu also.


The Poonthanam day is celebrated on the Aswathi day of the month of Kumbham (February-March) in commemoration of the Saint Poonthanam, a great devotee of the Lord, who enriched Malayalam devotional literature with his renowned poetic composition 'Jnanapana', a philosophical work of all times. On this day, recital of Poonthanam's works and debate takes place. A one week literary festival is conducted at Poonthanam illam.


Krishnanattam is a performing art that combines both piety and art. It is based on a Sanskrit work named “Krishnageethi” written by the Manavedan Raja, a Zamurin king of Kozhikode (Calicut) 350 years ago. The work includes 8 phases of the life of Lord Krishna starting with the incarnation (Avatharam) and ending with the Ascension to Heaven (Swargarohanam). The salient feature of the ‘Krishnanattam’ is the rhythmic and beautiful dance. The musical instruments used in Krishnanattam are Chengila, Ilathalam (Cimbal), Sankhu (Conch), Sudhamadhalam and Thoppimadhalam.
After Guruvayur Devaswom has taken over the art form Krishnanattam in 1958, the singers have started to use two more musical instruments namely ‘Sruthipetti’ and ‘Idakka’ besides the traditional ones.
In Guruvayur temple the month of June is the vacation for Krishnanattam. July and August are months for rehearsal. Tuesday is weekly holiday. On all other days , ‘Krishnanattam’ is performed in the temple on demand of devotees. This traditional performing art of Kerala is getting popular and performed not only in other parts of Kerala, but also in many other countries of the world.
If the performance is made in the temple as part of worship, the devotees have to pay the fixed fee and for performance outside the temple, the devotees may pay the fixed charge for the performance.

Utsavam or annual festival

Guruvayur, the Utsavam lasts for ten days. Beginning on the day of Pushya (the 8th asterism) in the month of Kumbham ( February-March), it ends after the Aarattu on the 10th day.
GURUVAYUR DEVASWOMReligiously, it is the restoration of divine Chaithanya. Brahmakalasam is preceded by the Utsavam. It is aimed at the purification and energisation of the powers of the deity. It is the last of the long series of rituals of kalasam and at the end, the flag will be hoisted heralding the Utsavam.
Culturally, it consists of various processions, illumination and modest fire-works (this is a specialty of Guruvayur Utsavam that no explosives are used, unlike most of the other Kerala temples). All ten days, the place wears a festive look, streets dressed up with arches, festoons etc., houses freshly thatched and painted. Every shrine and building is tastefully decorated with lights, plantain trunks, bunches of coconut and arecanuts. Two Gopurams and the bahyankana (outer-courtyard) are elaborately decorated with illuminations and eye-catching electric displays. The lamps, deepasthambams and vilakku are all lightened.

Auspicious Days and Observances


Ekadasi observance propitiates Gods and Goddesses including Vishnu. Ekadasi associated with dasami at sunrise is called Bhooripaksham and Ekadasi associated with dwadasi is called Anandapaksham. They are also called Pithrupaksha and Devapaksha respectively. Bhooripaksha or Pithrupaksha ekadasi is more suitable to perform paternal rites and Anandapaksha or Devapaksha more suited for those who seek salvation.

    Regulations of Ekadasi observance
  • Rice should not be taken
  • Only one meal at daytime on dasami day
  • Total fast on Ekadasi day. Thulasi theertham can be taken
  • Only one meal at daytime on dwadasi
  • No supper on three consecutive days
  • Must not sleep during daytime


The last phase of Ekadasi (one fourth of thithi) consisting of 15 nazhikas and the first phase of dwadasi consisting of 15 nazhikas (total 30 nazhikas) is known as Harivasara. Though all Ekadasis have their own importance the Vaikunda, Sayana, and Uthana Ekadasis and the Ekadasis of Guruvayur, Thiruvilwamala, Nelluvai, Thripayar and Kadavallur temple are considered to have special significance.


Among dwadasis, Vaisakha and Sravana dwadasi are considered more important. All observances bring blessings, but not observing Ekadasi may bring harm.


Arkavratham is observed to please Aadithya (sun). Must get up before sunrise on Sunday and worship Aadithya, silently chanting Gayathri manthram or Sooryasthuthi. Only one meal during daytime and no food after sunset. This observance promotes dharma in whole humanity and gives deliverance from all evils.


Dhakshinamurthy turned ascetic when his wife Dhakshayani gave up her life. Parvathi was able to make Dhakshinamurthy to take her as his wife by observing Somavaravratham (fasting on Monday). The widowhood of princess Seemanthini came to an end by observing Somavaravratham. It is particularly pleasing to the Siva family: Siva, Parvathi, Ganapathi and Skandamurthy. When Amavasi coincides with Monday it is known as Amosomavaram and that day is particularly suitable for fasting.

  • Get up early in the morning
  • Take bath and put on white cloths
  • Smear ash on the forehead and put on rudraksha
  • Go to temple and pray Soman (Siva and Uma –half man and half woman) chanting hymns
  • Visit the temple again in the evening chanting prayers of Siva
  • Make offerings to Siva and the Brahmins
  • No food during daytime

Shashtee Vratham

Shashteevratham appeases Lord Subramanya. The legend says that Sreeskandhan after imprisoning Brahmavu became conscious of the magnitude of his crime and turned himself into a horrible serpent and vanished. Lord Siva advised Parvathi to observe Sukla shshteevratham to regain her son. Accordingly Parvathi observed Shashti for 108 days. During the observance she ate only once a day, slept on bare floor, woke up early morning and continued to pray Subrahmanya.On the last day Vishnu and other Gods appeared before Parvathi. She had a vision of Subramhanyan in the shape of a horrible serpent. When Mahavishnu touched the serpent it regained the form of Subramanya. That is why we offer the idol of serpent when we worship Subramhanya. It is believed that Subrahmanya appeared to Parvathi on the shashti in the month of Vaisakha at a place called Subrahmanayam. There is another legend, which says that Shashteevratham was observed by the Gods when they lost sight of Skandha in the middle of war. Shashti is also observed for deliverance from the disease of leprosy.

Ashtami Vratham

It is observed on Astami day in the Karutha Paksha. The day is observed just as Ekadasi.It was on the Ashtami day in Krishna paksha that Vyaghra pada maharshi sighted Lord Siva in the sanctum sactorum of Vaikkom temple.


Pradosham is sacred to Lord Siva. It marks the beginning of the dusk of Thrayodashi day. Not only human beings but also Gods like Vishnu worship and perform dance to pray Pradosha rudra on the day. It is also the day Lord Siva seats the Goddess on a pedestal and dances around to please her.

  • Put on white cloths after bath
  • Smear ash over the body and put on rudraksha
  • Pray at Siva temple
  • Fast during daytime
  • Pray at Siva temple in the evening chanting Panchakshara
  • Complete the observance by taking food


Navarathri may fall in the month of Kanni or Thulam. It is observed for 9 days in Kerala after the vavu of Kanni.

  • Fasting begins with Amavasi
  • Only one meal on the first day
  • Goddess to be worshipped at a clean and decorated place inside the house o Poojas to be performed by Brahmins
After Navarathri pooja girls between two and ten years of age must be worshipped as the representatives of the Goddess as Kumari, Thrimurthi, Kalyani, Rohini, Kali, Chandika, Sambhavi, Durga and Subhadra. The Ashtami day when Durga appeared to the Gods is called Durgashtami and the day Durgaman, the evil spirit was assassinated is known as Vijayadasami. It was Lord Sreerama who first observed Navarathri. Devi bhagavatham says that he observed Sivarathri at Kishkindha after Seetha was stolen. Some people conceive Bhuvaneswari as Saraswathi and worship books for 9 days starting on Durgashtami and ending with Vijayadasami. Vijayadasami is the auspicious day to initiate children to education. Goddess Saraswathi is known by different names in different aspects: Veena Saraswathi, Dancing Saraswathi, Bharathi, Brahmi, Vageeswari and Gayathri.


The Chadurdasi coming in between the amavasi of Makara and Kumbha is known as Mahasivarathri. The day Chadurdasi touches the midnight is the beginning of Sivarathri. If it happens on two days the first day is taken as Sivarathri. Navarathri associated with Thrayodasi is considered more auspicious. Legend says that when Palazhi was churned a very dangerous poison Halahal came out and Lord Mahadeva consumed it. To prevent the poison from entering the stomach all Gods kept awake, fasted and prayed throughout the night. The poison stayed at the throat of Lord Siva and after that he came to be called as “Blue throat”, Neelakanda. Persons who do not observe any other fast, if they observe Sivarathri will get the benefit of observing all other fasts.

  • Get up at Brahma muhurtham (4.30 a.m approximately)
  • After bathing put on rudraksha and smear ash on body
  • Must not take any food through out the day
  • Spend the whole day at Siva temple if possible
  • Chant prayers of Siva o At sunset take bath and make offerings to Siva
  • Must not sleep at night
  • Next morning pray at Siva temple, make offerings and give feast and presents to Brahmins
  • Put an end to fasting and take food
Sivarathri observance at Gokarnum in Karnataka, Thripangote in Vettathunadu, Kallekkulangara in Palakkad, Aluva in Ernakulam and Vadakkumnatha in Thrissur are considered to be more important.


This observance appeases Umamaheshwara. Thoruvathira of the month of Dhanu is considered more auspicious. Devotees observe Ardravratham, Ardradarasanam and Ardrajagaranam. If Thiruvathira falls on daytime, fast should be observed. Rice should not be eaten. Married women will be blessed if they observe fast and pray to God chanting hymns.


Lord Mahavishnu was incarnated as Sreekrishna on the day Ashtamy and Rohini conjoined in the month of Chingam. People should keep awake till midnight observing fast. When the moon rises fast can be broken after worshipping God. Rice should not be eaten for the whole day and Bhagavad-geetha had to be recited day and night.


Deepavali is celebrated in memory of the assassination of Narakasura, who was a curse to humanity. It begins with the Chathurdasi in the month of Thulam. It is known as Narakachadurdasi. In some places deepavali starts on the day of Trayodasi.Early morning on Trayodasi all anoint their bodies with oil and take bath. Worship of Goddess Lakshmi is more gainful during deepavali. Jains also observe deepavali as the death anniversary of Mahaveera. In Bengal deepavali is considered suitable for rites to please forefathers. Sree Lakshmi and Mahakali are worshiped during deepavali.

Akshaya Thritheeya

The thritheeya on the veluthapaksha of the month of Medam is celebrated as Akshaya thritheeya. Sukhlapaksha dwadasi in the month of Vaisakha, Thritheeya and Pournami are believed to have more importance than other days. Observing fast on these three days amounts to observing Vaisakha dharma on all other days.

Edatharikathukavil Pilleru Thalappoli05/01/2011
Dwajaprathishta Dinam17/01/2011
Republic Day26/01/2011
Edatharikathukavil Devaswom Thalappoli01/02/2011
Guruvayur Ulsavam Kalasarambam08/02/2011
Sahasra Kalasam15/02/2011
Ulsavarambam, Anayottam, Kodiyettam16/02/2011
Ulsavam 8th day, Ulsavabali23/02/2011
Ulsavam 9th day, Pallivetta24/02/2011
Ulsavam 10th day, Arattu25/02/2011
Poonthanam Day09/03/2011
Vaisakha Arambam04/05/2011
Thrissur Pooram12/05/2011
Vaisakham last day01/06/2011
Upadevanmar Kalasam20/06/2011 to 26/06/2011
Independence day15/08/2011
Sreekrishna Jayanthi/Ashtamirohini21/08/2011
Uthradam Kazhchakula Veppu08/09/2011
Gandhi Jayanthi02/10/2011

Special Days and Functions

Poonthanam Day

The Aswathi of Kumbha is celebrated as the Poonthanam day in honour of the great vernacular poet Poonthanam. The day is celebrated with literary competitions and cultural programmes. Poonthanam Illam (house of Poonthanam) is taken over and preserved by Guruvayur Devaswom and the day is celebrated both at the illam and at Guruvayur temple.

Melpathur Day and Melpathur Memorial

The abode of Merlpathur is situated near the Chandanakkavu Bhagavathi temple, three kms away from Thirunavaya Vishnu temple in Malappuram district. A life size statue of Narayana Bhattathiripad, the writer of Sreemannarayaneeyam was erected in the Mandapam built in this place owned by Guruvayur Devaswom. Narayaneeyam day is celebrated in the memorial on the 8th of Vrischikam every year just as it is celebrated in Guruvayur temple on 28th of Vrischikam. It is the day when the great poet Narayana Bhattathiripad dedicated his magnum opus Sreemannarayaneeyam to Guruvayurappan in the year 762.The day is celebrated with competitions for students and cultural programmes.

Krishnageethi Day

Thulam 30th is celebrated as Krishnageethi day since the year 1160 (1984). It was on the 30th of Thulam that Manavedan Namboothiripad dedicated his Sanskrit composition entitled Krishnageethi to Guruvayurappan. The performing art Krishnanattom is based on this composition.


Ashtamirohini is the birth time of Sree Guruvayurappan. It is celebrated with great rejoicing and various cultural programmes to commemorate the incarnation of Lord Krishna at Ashtamirohini in the month of Chingam. As part of the Bhagavatha sapthaha yajna conducted by the devaswom, the story of the incarnation of the Lord is narrated on this day. Palpayasam and ada are the special offerings of the day. All devotees who come to the temple on the day get the opportunity to relish the birthday feast. Thousands of devotees attend the celebration every year.
The awards for outstanding performance in the temple arts of Koothu, Koodiyattom, Sopanasangeetham, Krishnanattom, Padakam, Melam, Pancha vadyam, Nadaswarom, Sculpture, Murals and the art of making elephant paraphernalia are distributed on the day. The award consists of a citation and Rs.10001. An expert committee selects the winners.


Ekadasi is one of the greatest annual celebrations of Guruvayur temple. Ekadasi falling in the Veluthapaksham in the month of Vrischikam is celebrated as the historical Guruvayur Ekadasi. Lamp lighting in connection with the celebration starts a month before. Illumination using oil lamps on Ashtami, Navami, Dasami and Ekadasi attracts a lot of people to the temple. Special feast is supplied to devtees coming to the temple on Ekadasi, Dwadasi and Thrayodasi. Thousands reach the temple to participate in the celebration from different parts of the country.

Commemoration of Kesavan

The memory of the great elephant of GD called Kesavan is sacred to all devotees of Guruvayurappan. Kesavan expired on 2nd December 1976, which was the day of Ekadasi. In memory of the departed Kesavan, a procession of all elephants of the temple is taken out from the Thiruvenkitachalapathi temple to the statue of Kesavan in front of the Sreevalsam Guest House. After garlanding the statue, the elephants are fed in the temple.

Aksharaslokam Competition

As part of Ekadasi celebration an Aksharaslokam competition is held every year. Experts from all parts of Kerala participate in the competition and first, second and third place winners are presented with gold medallions.

Geetha Day

Ekadasi is also celebrated the day of Geetha. Recital of Geetha and discourses on Geetha start at Koothambalam from 7 a.m onwards.

Chembai Music Festival

The music festival is yet another attraction of Ekadasi. The day is celebrated in memory of the great Carnatic music maestro and staunch devotee of Guruvayurappan Sri. Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar. The festival begins 15 days before Ekadasi and ends with a grand finale in the Ekadasi night at the Melpathur auditorium. Approximately 3000 musicians and students take part in the festival. The All India Radio and Doordarshan directly telecast the programme on the last five days.

Bhagavatha sapthaham

The first Bhagavatha sapthaham was started at the temple Oottupura in 1159. Since then it is conducted regularly every year. It begins seven days before Ashtami rohini. During Vaisakha up to four Sapthahas are conducted consecutively.

Sreemannarayaneeyam sapthaham

As part of Narayaneeyam celebration Narayaneeya Sapthaham is conducted. It begins a week before the Narayaneeyam day and ends on the eve of Narayaneeyam day at the Temple Spiritual Hall. On Narayaneeyam day fomous scholars perform a complete recital of Narayaneeyam.

(Kazhchakkula )Offering Plantain

It is believed that plantain fruit is a favourite food of Guruvayurappan. The most suitable time to offer plantain is Uthradam, the eve of Onam. Plantains are placed on the pedestal of the golden flag post in front of the temple immediately after Seeveli. The main poojari of the temple makes the first offering, followed by office bearers and then devotees. Excess plantain is sold by public auction.

Religious Discourses on Mandala, Vaisakha and Karkkidaka

Religious discourses by well-known spiritual leaders are held at Melpathur Auditorium during Mandala, Vaisakha and Karkkidaka. This is in addition to the regular discourses during festival season. Great spiritual leaders speak on spiritual subjects.

Samkrama sandhya

On the last day of every month (Sankramam) after evening poojas religious discourses and cultural programmes are held at Melpathur auditorium.