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Guruvayur, Kerala

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Guruvayur, a pilgrimage town in the southwest part of Kerala, India is famous for its centuries old, red roofed Guruvayur Temple. Situated in the Thrissur district, around 82 kms from Kochi, the entire town is structured around this temple and it is a major commercial centre. It is India’s third largest temple when it comes to the number of pilgrims it attracts each year amounting to more than seven million devotees annually. The locals believe that Lord Parasurama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu constructed the temple on the request of the Gods. Vishu, the Malayalam new year is celebrated around April and the Guruvayur temple celebrates this festival with great pomp. The significance of Vishu is that Lord Krishna killed the demon Narakasura on this day and hence the festival is the celebration of this victory. The day begins with Malayalees observing the ritual of ‘vishukanni’ in which seasonal fruits, vegetables, yellow flowers (Konna), rice, gold, clothes, coins and holy texts are kept on a platter and offered to the deity. It is the first sight that people see when they wake up on Vishu day. On this day, young men and women wear dried banana leaves and masks disguised as ‘chozhi’ to entertain the people by their performances then enjoy at the New Year fair called the Vishuwela.

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