Janardhana swamy temple,varkala

Arattu Festival in Janardhanaswamy Temple,Varkala

One of the most significant festivals in Kerala, the ten-day Arattu festival is celebrated in the Janardhan Swamy temple with elephant processions, ornamental silk umbrellas and all night kathakali dances. The Arattu is more of a ritual than a temple festival. A grand procession, a ceremonial bath and serving of a sweet dish – Palpayasam; marks the festivities of the Arattu. It is celebrated twice a year in Kerala; March – April and October – November.

Arattu Festival is celebrated in Janardhana Swamy Temple which displays the magnificent and vibrant colours of this place. It starts on the Karthika Day of the Malayalam Calendar with Kodiyettu (Flag Hoisting) and ends on Uthram Day (another auspicious day) with Arattu. The festival is observed in the month of Meenam (March-April) and is a ten-day affair.

The fourth and fifth day of the festival includes all-night performances like the traditional Kathakali dance. A procession of five richly decorated elephants through the streets mark the end of the festival. The elephants are adorned with ornamental silk umbrellas and beautiful fans. The Arattu or the holy bath of Lord Vishnu is held on the Uttaram Day in the Arabian Sea which is near the temple.

Arattu is a ceremonial procession for Lord Vishnu which marks the end of the ten-day festival. The night before the parade, there is another procession inside the fort called ‘Pallivetta’.

On the day of Arattu, His Highness, the Ex-Maharaja enters the temple. After performing some rituals, the procession moves out through the eastern gate, accompanied by drums, nagaswaram etc. 

His Highness leads the procession with a sword in his hand and is escorted by armed guards, infantry, mounted police till the Sanghumugham beach. An elephant goes in front with a drum on its back. The drum is beaten to indicate the arrival of God according to ancient beliefs. The procession leaves the gate at around 5:00 PM with a 21 gun salute. The ceremonial bath is taken once the parade reaches the sea.

Main Attraction at Arattu Festival

The Dutch Bell

A major attraction of the temple is the Dutch Bell which is believed to be cast in 1757. It was offered by a Dutch sailor to the temple as an oblation. The story behind it is that a Dutch ship refused to move as it passed by the temple. The captain heard the chiming of a bell from the temple. He promised to give a bell in his ship to the temple as an oblation if the Lord allowed his ship to sail further. Soon a wind came which moved the ship safely. The caption returned and kept his promise.

Event Information