Located in Kerala, Guruvayur temple is the abode of 'Guruvayurappan' (Srikrishnan). This temple is very famous through out India and celebrates all the festivals of Kerala with great pomp and gaiety. Some of the festivals celebrated at Guruvayur temple are Ulsavam, Vishu, Ashtami Rohini, Mandalam, Ekadasi, Ashtami Rohini, Kuchela's Day, Chembai music festival & Narayaneeyam day. When one makes a tour to India, Guruvayur temple is one temple he should not miss, especially during the festival season.
Ulsavam: This festival is conducted in the month of Kumbha, i.e., in February or March and lasts for 10 days. The hoisting of the temple flag atop the flagstaff (Dwajastambham) about 70 feet high marks the beginning of the festival. On the 1st day, an elephant race is held. The next 6 days, devotees can witness elephant processions in the morning, afternoon and night. In the morning, there is the Sribhuta Bali (offering of oblation at various altar). Besides this there are also various cultural programs. On the 8th day, during 'Utsavabali' (from 10 am to 4 pm) oblations are offered to the Lord's lieutenants. A sumptuous feast then awaits the devotees. Pallivetta or the hunting expedition of the Lord takes place on the 9th day. This hunt is symbolic of the destruction of Kama (desire), Krodha (anger) and other such evils that plague us in our life. After that the Lord's idol is takan to the Rudratheertha (temple pond) for Aarattu, amidst the chanting of mantras. Thousands of devotees also take the dip, chanting the Lord's name to wash off their sins. Then noon Pooja (which takes place at night only on this day) is held at the Bhagavati shrine. Finally, the Lord returns to the sanctum sanctorum after 11 circumambulations. The temple flag is then lowered signifying the end of the festival.
Vishu: The Malayali New Year day, Vishu, falls on the 1st of Medam month (mid-April). During this festival, a kani (omen) consisting of konna flowers , raw rice, gold, betel leaves and nuts, yellow cucumber and coins, are so arranged in front of the family deity in the previous night itself, so that one sees them at first glimpse on waking up in the morning. Seeing the kani at Guruvayur is considered very auspicious and hence millions of devotees stay overnight, blindfold themselves and set their eyes on the Kani and the glorious deity as the doors are as usual opened for the dharshan at 3 a.m.
Ashtami Rohini: In the month of Chingam (July-Aug), under the Rohini Nakshatra, on the 8th day of the waning moon of Sravana is the day of Lord Krishna's birth i.e. Janmashtami. A very special day in all Sree Krishna temples, Guruvayur Devaswom itself offer a niramala (full of garlands and lamps), devotees flock in with cakes of rice paste and jaggery considered the most favourite food of the Lord on that day.