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The culture of Kerala is composite and cosmopolitan in nature and it is an integral part of Indian

culture.[9] It is synthesis of Aryan and Dravidian cultures,[360] defined by its antiquity and the
organic continuity sustained by the Malayali people.[361] It has been elaborated through centuries
of contact with neighbouring and overseas cultures.[362] However, the geographical insularity of
Kerala from the rest of the country has resulted in the development of a distinctive lifestyle, art,
architecture, language, literature and social institutions.[9] Over 10,000 festivals are celebrated in
the state every year.[363] The Malayalam calendar, a solar calendar started from 825 CE in
Kerala,[364] finds common usage in planning agricultural and religious activities.[365]


Main article: Temple Festivals of Kerala

Many of the temples in Kerala hold festivals on specific days of the year.[366] A common
characteristic of these festivals is the hoisting of a holy flag which is brought down on the final
day of the festival after immersing the deity.[367] Some festivals include Poorams, the best known
of these being the Thrissur Pooram.[368] "Elephants, firework displays and huge crowds" are the
major attractions of Thrissur Pooram.[369] Other known festivals are Makaravilakku,[370] Nenmara
Vallangi Vela[371] and Utsavam.[372] Temples that can afford it will usually involve at least one
richly caparisoned elephant as part of the festivities. The idol in the temple is taken out on a
procession around the countryside atop this elephant. When the procession visits homes around
the temple, people will usually present rice, coconuts, and other offerings to it.[373] Processions
often include traditional music such as Panchari melam or Panchavadyam.[374]


Main article: Onam

Onam is a harvest festival celebrated by the people of Kerala and is a reminiscent of the state's
agrarian past.[375][376] It is also the State festival of Kerala[377] with public holidays for four days
from Onam Eve (Uthradom) to the fourth Onam Day.[378] Onam falls in the Malayalam month of
Chingam (AugustSeptember)[379] and marks the commemoration of the Vamana avatara of
Vishnu and the subsequent homecoming of King Mahabali.[380] It is one of the festivals
celebrated with cultural elements such as Vallam Kali,[381] Pulikali,[382] Pookkalam,[383] Thumbi
Thullal[384] and Onavillu.[385]


Main article: Arts of Kerala

Kerala is home to a number of performance arts. These include five classical dance forms:
Kathakali, Mohiniyattam, Koodiyattom, Thullal and Krishnanattam, which originated and
developed in the temple theatres during the classical period under the patronage of royal
houses.[386] Kerala natanam, Thirayattam, Kaliyattam, Theyyam, Koothu and Padayani are other
dance forms associated with the temple culture of the region.[387] Some traditional dance forms
such as Margamkali and Parichamuttukali are popular among the Syrian Christians and Chavittu
nadakom is popular among the Latin Christians,[388][389] while Oppana and Duffmuttu are popular
among the Muslims of the state.[390]


The development of classical music in Kerala is attributed to the contributions it received from
the traditional performance arts associated with the temple culture of Kerala.[391] The
development of the indigenous classical music form, Sopana Sangeetham, illustrates the rich
contribution that temple culture has made to the arts of Kerala.[391] Carnatic music dominates
Keralite traditional music. This was the result of Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma's popularisation
of the genre in the 19th century.[362] Raga-based renditions known as sopanam accompany
kathakali performances.[392] Melam; including the paandi and panchari variants, is a more
percussive style of music:[393] it is performed at Kshetram-centered festivals using the chenda.
Panchavadyam is a form of percussion ensemble, in which artists use five types of percussion
instrument.[393] Kerala's visual arts range from traditional murals to the works of Raja Ravi
Varma, the state's most renowned painter.[391] Most of the castes and communities in Kerala have
rich collections of folk songs and ballads associated with a variety of themes; Vadakkan Pattukal
(Northern Ballads), Thekkan pattukal (Southern Ballads), Vanchi pattukal (Boat Songs), Mappila
Pattukal (Muslim songs) and Pallipattukal (Church songs) are a few of them.[394]


Main article: Cinema of Kerala

Malayalam films carved a niche for themselves in the Indian film industry with the presentation
of social themes.[395][396] Directors from Kerala, like Adoor Gopalakrishnan, John Abraham, P.
Padmarajan, G. Aravindan and Shaji N Karun have made a considerable contribution to the
Indian parallel cinema. Kerala has also given birth to numerous actors, such as Satyan, Prem
Nazir, Jayan, Adoor Bhasi, Bharath Gopi, Mammootty, Mohanlal, Suresh Gopi, Sreenivasan,
Jayaram, Murali, Dulquer Salman, Dileep, Oduvil Unnikrishnan, Thilakan, Jagathy Sreekumar,
Nedumudi Venu, KPAC Lalitha, Fahad Fazil, Nivin Pauly, Asif Ali. Late Malayalam actor Prem
Nazir holds the world record for having acted as the protagonist of over 720 movies.[397] Since
the 1980s, actors Mammootty and Mohanlal have dominated the movie industry; Mammootty
has won three National Awards for best actor while Mohanlal has two to his credit.[398]
Malayalam Cinema has produced a few more notable personalities such as K.J. Yesudas,[399]
K.S. Chitra,[400] Vayalar Rama Varma, M.T. Vasudevan Nair and O.N.V. Kurup,[401] the last two
mentioned being recipients of Jnanpith award, the highest literary award in India.[402]


Main article: Malayalam Literature

Malayalam literature starts from the late medieval period and includes such notable writers as the
14th-century Niranam poets (Madhava Panikkar, Sankara Panikkar and Rama Panikkar),[403][404]
and the 17th-century poet Thunchaththu Ezhuthachan, whose works mark the dawn of both the
modern Malayalam language and its poetry.[405] Paremmakkal Thoma Kathanar and Kerala
Varma Valiakoi Thampuran are noted for their contribution to Malayalam prose.[406][407][408] The
"triumvirate of poets" (Kavithrayam): Kumaran Asan, Vallathol Narayana Menon, and Ulloor S.
Parameswara Iyer, are recognised for moving Keralite poetry away from archaic sophistry and
metaphysics, and towards a more lyrical mode.[409][410][411] In the second half of the 20th century,
Jnanpith winning poets and writers like G. Sankara Kurup, S. K. Pottekkatt, Thakazhi
Sivasankara Pillai, M. T. Vasudevan Nair and O. N. V. Kurup had made valuable contributions
to the modern Malayalam literature.[412][413][414][415][416] Later, writers like O. V. Vijayan,
Kamaladas, M. Mukundan, Arundhati Roy, Vaikom Muhammed Basheer, have gained
international recognition.[417][418][419][420]


Main article: Cuisine of Kerala

Kerala cuisine has a multitude of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes prepared using fish,
poultry, and meat. Culinary spices have been cultivated in Kerala for millennia and they are
characteristic of its cuisine.[421] Rice is a dominant staple that is eaten at all times of day.[422] A
majority of the breakfast foods in Kerala are made out of rice, in one form or the other (idli,
puttu, appam, or idiyappam), tapioca preparations, or pulse-based vada.[423] These may be
accompanied by chutney, kadala, payasam, payar pappadam, appam, chicken curry, beef fry,
egg masala and fish curry.[212] Lunch dishes include rice and curry along with rasam, pulisherry
and sambar.[424] Sadhya is a vegetarian meal, which is served on a banana leaf and followed with
a cup of payasam.[425] Popular snacks include banana chips, yam crisps, tapioca chips,
unniyappam and kuzhalappam.[426][427][428] Seafood specialties include karimeen, prawns, shrimp
and other crustacean dishes.[429] Kerala also has large variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian
achar (pickles) ranging from manga (mango), white lemon, fish, beef and seafood pickles.[citation


Elephants have been an integral part of the culture of the state. Kerala is home to the largest
domesticated population of elephants in Indiaabout 700 Indian elephants, owned by temples as
well as individuals.[430] These elephants are mainly employed for the processions and displays
associated with festivals celebrated all around the state. More than 10,000 festivals are celebrated
in the state annually and some animal lovers have sometimes raised concerns regarding the
overwork of domesticated elephants during them.[363] In Malayalam literature, elephants are
referred to as the 'sons of the sahya.[431] The elephant is the state animal of Kerala and is featured
on the emblem of the Government of Kerala.[139]


Cuisine - Ladakhi food has much in common with Tibetan food, the most prominent foods
being thukpa (noodle soup) and tsampa, known in Ladakhi as ngampe (roasted barley flour).
Edible without cooking, tsampa makes useful trekking food. A dish that is strictly Ladakhi is
skyu, a heavy pasta dish with root vegetables. As Ladakh moves toward a cash-based economy,
foods from the plains of India are becoming more common. As in other parts of Central Asia, tea
in Ladakh is traditionally made with strong green tea, butter, and salt. It is mixed in a large churn
and known as gurgur cha, after the sound it makes when mixed. Sweet tea (cha ngarmo) is
common now, made in the Indian style with milk and sugar. Most of the surplus barley that is
produced is fermented into chang, an alcoholic beverage drunk especially on festive

Music and dance - Traditional music includes the instruments surna and daman (shenai and
drum). The music of Ladakhi Buddhist monastic festivals, like Tibetan music, often involves
religious chanting in Tibetan as an integral part of the religion. These chants are complex, often
recitations of sacred texts or in celebration of various festivals. Yang chanting, performed
without metrical timing, is accompanied by resonant drums and low, sustained syllables.
Religious mask dances are an important part of Ladakh's cultural life. Hemis monastery, a
leading centre of the Drukpa tradition of Buddhism, holds an annual masked dance festival, as do
all major Ladakhi monasteries. The dances typically narrate a story of the fight between good
and evil, ending with the eventual victory of the former.[73] Weaving is an important part of
traditional life in eastern Ladakh. Both women and men weave, on different looms.[74] Typical
costumes include gonchas of velvet, elaborately embroidered waistcoats and boots and hats.


The most popular sport in Ladakh now is ice hockey, which is played only on natural ice
generally midDecember through midFebruary.[75] Cricket is also very popular. Archery is a
traditional sport in Ladakh, and many villages still hold archery festivals, which are as much
about traditional dancing, drinking and gambling as about the sport. The sport is conducted with
strict etiquette, to the accompaniment of the music of surna and daman (shehnai and drum).
Polo, the other traditional sport of Ladakh is indigenous to Baltistan and Gilgit, and was
probably introduced into Ladakh in the mid17th century by King Singge Namgyal, whose
mother was a Balti princess.[76] However Polo is still popular among the Baltis and the sport with
some support from financial bigwigs is an annual affair in Drass region of District

Social status of women

A local woman carrying crops after a good summer harvest

A feature of Ladakhi society that distinguishes it from the rest of the state is the high status and
relative emancipation enjoyed by women compared to other rural parts of India. Fraternal
polyandry and inheritance by primogeniture were common in Ladakh until the early 1940s when
these were made illegal by the government of Jammu and Kashmir. However, the practice
remained in existence into the 1990s especially among the elderly and the more isolated rural
populations.[81] Another custom is known as khang-bu, or 'little house', in which the elders of a
family, as soon as the eldest son has sufficiently matured, retire from participation in affairs,
yielding the headship of the family to him and taking only enough of the property for their own
sustenance.[10] The society is also both maternal and paternal, the tradition of where the groom
comes to stay with the bride's family is not considered a taboo unlike the rest of India. Women
enjoy a very high status in society, however, we see very less participation by women in the
politics of the region.

Traditional medicine

Tibetan medicine has been the traditional health system of Ladakh for over a thousand years.
This school of traditional healing contains elements of Ayurveda and Chinese medicine,
combined with the philosophy and cosmology of Tibetan Buddhism. For centuries, the only
medical system which was accessible to the people have been the amchi who are traditional
doctors following the Tibetan medical tradition. Amchi medicine is still an important component
of public health to this day, especially in remote areas.[82]

A number of programmes by the government, local and international organisations are underway
to develop and rejuvenate this traditional system of healing.[82][83] Efforts are underway to
preserve the intellectual property rights of amchi medicine for the people of Ladakh. The
government has also been trying to promote the seabuckthorn in the form of juice and jam, as it
is believed to possess many medicinal properties. This is also seen as a means of providing
employment to the various self-help groups in rural Ladakh.

Festivals of Ladakh

Ladakh celebrates lots of famous festivals and one of the biggest and most popular festival is
Hemis festival. The festival is celebrated in June to commemorate the birth of Guru
Padmasambhava. In the month of September the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department with
the help of local authorities organize Ladakh Festival. The Government of Jammu and Kashmir
also organizes the Sindhu Darshan festival at Leh in the month of MayJune. This Festival is
celebrated on the full moon day (Guru Poornima) . [8


Ladakh is a cold desert in the eastern part of Kashmir. Since this place is covered with snow for
most parts of the year, very little agriculture is possible. People are mainly herders of sheep, goat
and yak. They use milk and meat of these animals as food. They also use hairs of these animals
to make wool. They weave pashmina shawls and sell them to traders in Kashmir.
Ladakh was on the important trade route since ancient times. Due to this, many travelers from
different parts of the world always came to this place. People of Ladakh interacted with those
travelers. Due to that, Islam was introduced in this region hundreds of years ago. Even today,
there is a sizeable population of Muslims in this region. There is significant number of followers
of Buddhism as well in this region.


Kerala is on the southern tip of India. Kerala has been an important centre of trade since ancient
times. Traders came here to trade in spices. Because of travelers, Christianity was introduced in
Kerala about 2000 years ago. Similarly, Islam was introduced through the traders from the Arab
world. Vasco da Gama; who was a Portuguese traveler was the first to discover the sea route
between Europe and India. He landed his ship in Kerala. The European culture came to India
after that.

People of Kerala follow different religions; like Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and

The fishing nets which are still being used on the coasts of Kerala resemble the Chinese fishing
nets. These are called cheena-vala. A utensil used for frying is called cheenachatti. These things
show that there must be very old trade connections with China.


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