5 things about the local culture that will make you fall in love with Kerala

Indus Holidays

Explorer Team

Kerala has a very distinct and rich culture to be proud of. The grandeur of the land and its people is visible in its colourful and mosaic celebrations, evolution of performing arts, famed and revered literature, music, painting, cuisine and so on.

What we see of Kerala today is an amalgamation of the various kinds of influences this land has been subjected to. 

The original inhabitants of Kerala were the Dravidians. This article will try to expose you to quintessential elements of the Keralite's daily life.

Coconut – the Tree of Life

Photo by: Dan Iserman

You will be amazed to know the range of uses the tree is put to in Kerala. In the food department, tender coconut water is our own state soft drink and the soft flesh at this time is mixed with jaggery to make a delicious snack. The mature fruit is grated and used to garnish almost every Keralite dish or it is used to make coconut oil which a prime ingredient in the kerala cuisine. Toddy our own alcoholic drink is made from the sap of the flower before it blooms.

Not only is the tree ubiquitous in Kerala swaying along the coast, the tree has a great impact on the lifestyle of the people here.  

Coir which is the husk of the coconut is used in many interesting ways. The strong fibre is used for mats, baskets, rugs and carpets and so on. The outer shell of the coconut is carved and shaped into numerous attractive traditional handicraft products like pots and necklaces. The coconut leaves are used for thatching houses and dried leaves are used as fuel. As it can be seen evidently the coconut tree and its products are an unavoidable part of the Kerala culture. 

Performing arts that preserve tradition

Photo by: Kerala Tourism

The story and culture of Kerala is best portrayed by the evolution of its art. 

The performing arts of Kathakali, Mohiniattam and Theyyam, musical extravaganzas like Panchavadyam and martial art forms like Kalaripayattu reveal the times of the people that once lived Kerala. Art that once was only a part of the temples and palaces is now emerged into the public space. Today this art is packaged as cultural products so that the cultural mosaic is saved from the danger of being lost forever. Read our detailed article on performing arts and how to plan some experiences below. 

Let us explain to you why you shouldn't miss out on experiencing Kerala's performing arts.


We call it ‘Tusker Mania’

Photo by: VnGrijl

Not a single important temple festival in Kerala passes by without an array of decorated tuskers on display

Keralites are simply fascinated by the beauty of the elephant and the tuskers have for long been part of the cultural ethos of the land. Elephants are a symbol of royalty and prestige besides being considered a harbinger of good fortune. Not a single important temple festival in Kerala passes by without an array of tuskers on display. The deities in temples are carried around only on an elephant. The Guruvayoor Keshavan who was the favourite of the Guruvayoor temple diety has a statue erected in his memory. The tusks of legendary elephants are kept in memory after their death. There are elephant enthusiastic painters in kerala who paint only tuskers. Picture that! The elephants of kerala can be seen in Punnathur Kotta near the Guruvayoor temple or the Kodanad elephant training camp. 


No love sincerer than the love of food

Photo by: Y'amal

Like any authentic cuisine, the Keralan cuisine also takes full advantage of its land produce of excellent seafood, spices and especially coconut.

Honest, unpretentious food has a dimension that is difficult to match and it is this remarkable simplicity, taste and range that has helped Kerala’s cuisine to create an identity of its own. The range that one sees today in Kerala food has been influenced by historical, cultural, geographical and social conditioning and especially its association with foreign lands. In very few places in the world will you find such incredible variety for both vegetarian and non-vegetarian cuisine in equal vigour. Read our detailed article on the must try dishes in Kerala here.

Can we excite the food lover in you to read about the must-try delicacies of Kerala? Click to discover the best.


The unique festivals and celebrations

Photo by: Kerala Tourism

As a traveller, the living museums of a region’s culture that celebrations create are the biggest draw.

Kerala is the homeland of some of the most colourful and mosaic festivals in the world which transcend all regional and religious profiles. The trait that stands out through different ceremonies and rituals is the thread of harmony and oneness. Traditional practices live on with the same spirit to maintain the ethos of its people which is as distinct as the place itself. Celebrations here are not about the individual, it is about the land and the people and the society he/she is part of. Read our detailed article on the festivals of Kerala and how to experience them here.

Nothing beats real experience, right? We have shared our travelogues of visiting some of Kerala's famous festivals on this blog. Interested in the feel?

As a tailpiece it can be said that the culture of Kerala shows the resourcefulness of the people, association with nature and success of its people in carving out their own identity while being open and receptive to the plethora of influences the land has been subjected to. Don't miss an opportunity to get this rich experience. 

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  • vicky

    Its such a nice article about tourism and the culture of kerala. thanks for sharing. 

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