Come Christmas and all we think about is fun, food, music and gifts!! Truly a festival of happiness and unity, Christmas is one time of the year that we all look forward to celebrating with our loved ones. As the festival blends religious fervor and spirit of community living, people love to immerse themselves in prayers which are followed by feast. The best and most fervent Christmas celebration in India is seen among Kerala Christians in and outside the state. With the most magnificent churches, beach festivals, carnivals and succulence of food and beautiful landscape, Kerala is a treat in itself during Christmas.
As is known to all, Kerala is the Cradle of Christianity in India. Right from the establishment of the first church in 52 AD by St. Thomas, an apostle of Jesus Christ, the state now has Christians constituting1/4th of it’s total population. With around10 denominations of Christianity present in Kerala, the state houses hundreds of churches with their own distinct beliefs and practices. To see them come alive during Christmas fills one with divinity. Let’s take look at the most exuberant and famous Christian churches in Kerala for a perfect merry Christmas time with friends and relatives.
One of the oldest Churches in Kerala and in india, Basilica of our Lady of Dolores is situated in the district of Thrissur. The church building is magnificent with marble white edifice and the famous Bible tower. During Christmas, the entire premises look no less than paradise itself. It is decorated with lights and candles and the interior halls beams with the prayers of devotees. Devotees hail it for the calmness the place has despite of it’s location in the busy city of Thrissur. The towering white building is the tallest church in Asia. The interior prayer hall is equally beautiful and can be called a monument of Christian faith in India. Depicting Gothic architecture, the mural works and images of Saints are all unmatched in Asia itself.
Famous for it’s holy well with water possessing curative power, this church is thronged by devotees all the year round, in Christmas it gets all decked up and the celebrations are sky soaring. Situated in Edapally, Ernakulam, Mother Teressa had extolled this church during her visit. The modern era renovation has transformed the church interiors with installation of a Virgin Mary’s mural. The mural is captivating with Virgin Mary, baby Jesus and angels around them.
Located in Ernakulam district, the busiest place in Kerala, one can see all flavors of Christmas culminating here. The festival is celebrated here with cakes, vines and divine Music.
The home of partying, fun and food, Kochi beams up with religious fervor every Christmas. The markets are a treat to the eyes as Christmas trees, other decorative items and gifts are in high demand. And the most famous church of the city, St. Francis Church is all lighted and crowded for the prayers. The authorities and the devotees come together to create the crib and other decoration on the Christmas eve. It is the oldest European church in India with Portuguese inscriptions on the pavement still legible.
This is one of the eight Basilicas in Kerala. A monument of historical significance and an epitome of gothic architecture, this church hosts Christmas celebrations and prayers flooded by tourists and locals. It is a famous historical monument that withstood the attacks of invaders since the 16 century. It’s faith has endured cultural and political shifts in the region. And so the undeterred faith of the devotees rests here. The Christmas Carol and carnival wafts the ambience on the Christmas eve. The joyous Christmas atmosphere in famous Christian churches in Kerala are undoubtedly contagious.
This famous Christian pilgrim centre in north Kerala, is a Latin Catholic church with the name “Our Lady of Lourdes”. Although the main festival takes place in the month of February, Christmas enlivens this church with it’s won flavor. It is located 14 kilometers from Kalpetta in Wayanad district. As it is Wayanad district, there is never a slack time in tourism. Christmas, being the peak tourism time, there are carnivals and fests with mouth watering local delicacies and soulful music. The enthusiasm among the locals easily beckons the tourists too.
Legends have it that this church is dedicated to healing the devotees suffering from mental disorders. Every year on Christmas this church is thronged by devotees seeking blessings from St. George, the patron saint of this church. It is believed all prayers offered to the Saint are answered. This is one of the few churches which have the faith of even the non Christian local population here. It is situated in Alapuzha district. As December is also the time of beach fests, there is no way you’ll be let down when it comes to food and music. Beaches? There is ample of it in Alapuzha. And let’s not forget the Alleppey houseboats that are all jazzed up for this peak tourists season.
Located in the picturesquely beautiful district of Kannur, Thavam church has a beautiful picturesque surrounding. No wonder tourists are attracted to this place in large numbers. It is the home of the locals’ faith in Latin Catholicism which is as old as the advent of Christianity in Indian itself. On the eve of Christmas, the lights, the carols and the crib has a divine simplicity. Not very far from the Kannur beach, this church is a part of north Malabar region. So for tourists, beach fest and Christmas celebrations go hand in hand.
Situated near the Thalassery fort, this church is one of the oldest ones dating back to 16 Century. Built using exquisite stain glasses imported from London, this church has a mystical architecture. Situated near two other historic sites namely Thalassery fort and Brennen’s cemetery, this church is a major attraction on the tourist map of this region. Catholics hold prayers and carnivals and reinstate the happiness of community living during Christmas.
Situated in the midst of the busy Irinjalakuda town in Thrissur district, St. Thomas Cathedral has Pindi Parunnal as it’s main annual festival. Come Christmas and the church premises becomes paradisiacal and the locals throng here with devotion. As Thrissur is the cultural capital of Kerala, there is all the more cultural flavor to art here. There are plenty of delicacies to taste and lots to shop from local kiosks. This church premises is sprawling and has gateways leading to more than one church. At the time of Christmas, the surroundings resemble a fair with families gathering in large numbers.
Historically this church qualifies to be the cradle of Churches in India. The legend has it that it is here that St. Thomas, one of the apostles of Jesus Christ set his foot and began his journey to spread the holy message of Christianity. The St. Thomas church in Palayur is also connected to this apostle. In both the churches, Christmas is a time of great devotion and sharing. Christmas re-instills the fervor of community living here.
Situated in Palayam in the city of Thiruvanathpuram, the capital of Kerala, this church is perhaps the most magnificent of the epitomes of Roman Catholic faith in the country. Adorned in pristine white and beige, the gothic style architecture makes it one of it’s kind. There are three bells brought from Belgium. The white cathedral looks splendid on just any night. On the eve of Christmas, both the exterior and the interior are exquisitely decorated. The statue of the patron St. Joseph holding baby Jesus in the arms is particularly a popular one among the locals. The Christmas celebrations extend to the main city and the devotees look up to the eve to offer their special prayers here.
Belonging to the denomination of Syro Christians, this church is the main worship place of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church. As this is a relatively new denomination of Christianity, the foundation was laid back in 1950. With it’s renovation in 2008, the cathedral now has captivating murals and inscriptions. The Christmas celebrations are very much vibrant beginning one month before the main eve. Lasting up to New Year’s eve, the devotees in Pattom participate in large numbers. As Thiruvananthpuram is the main destination on the tourism map of Kerala, every year the number of devotees, apparently, increases.
As December is also the best season to visit Kerala, there is a festive ambience at all tourist destinations. Plus the spirit of community living is high. Christmas vacations in all schools last upto about 15 days. So no wonder children participate enthusiastically in the activities. Families celebrate with special Christmas cakes, vine, homemade sweets and snacks. There are different indigenous delicacies in each town and community of the state.
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