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Holidays in Kochi, India

The good thing about Kochi and the rest of Kerala is that people are always ready and eager to skip school and work to celebrate the festivals of the different cultures and religions that keep popping up every other week. Need an extra day to celebrate Vishu (Malayali New Year)? No problem – April has Ambedkar Jayanti and Vishu lined up on successive days, preceded by holidays earlier in the month for Mahavir Jayanti and Good Friday. In case you don’t know, Mahavir Jayanti is a Jain (different religion) holiday, Good Friday is a Christian holiday, and then Ambedkar Jayanti is kind of a secular/Buddhist one.

Onam? Ten-day festivalpalooza in Aug-Sept with two days off. Christmas? New Year’s Eve? You have the Kochi Carnival that starts Dec 20 and continues on to Jan 1. That’s the way you roll in Kochi.

As far as visitors are concerned, festival inconveniences are more or less minor (closed banks, post offices, etc.) and can be safely ignored. The festivals you want to keep an eye on include Onam, Diwali (Nov) and Christmas. These are all festivals when people go shopping like there’s no tomorrow. The streets will be flooded with shoppers and it’s a whole lot more fun, what with feasts and gifts and sweets. Not to mention the elephant parades, floats, temple functions and special competitions like snake boat races.

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Public Holidays in Kochi, India

  • January – The first month of the year begins with the last day of the Kochi Carnival, and then there’s a public holiday for Eid Milad-un-Nabi (Muslim holiday celebrating the birth of the Prophet Muhammad) after a couple of days. Jan 26 is Republic Day, so it’s a public holiday across India and all schools, private companies and government services grind to a halt (shops, public transportation and restaurants will be open).
  • February – The only public holiday in February is for Maha Shivratri, which is basically not going to affect you in any way as a tourist.
  • March – Sadly enough, there is no excuse in March to kick back and take a day off.
  • April makes up for it with Mahavir Jayanti, Good Friday, Ambedkar Jayanti and then Vishu.
  • May – May starts off nicely with the May Day holiday on May 1. The rest of the month is a total scorcher with no holiday respite from the heat.
  • June- Summer heat turns to monsoon misery in June, and still you have no holiday time off.
  • July – July provides a brief break in the form of Idul Fitr (Muslim holiday)
  • August – This is where the holiday fun shifts gears, starting with Independence Day on Aug 15, and then two days off at the end of the month for the 10-day Onam festival
  • September – The Onam fun spills over from Aug to Sept, and then there’s Vinayaka Chathurthi followed by Sree Narayana Guru Samadhi and then Bakrid.
  • October – Begins with the public holiday for Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday on Oct 2, and then two days near the end of the month for the nine-day Navaratri festival.
  • November – November’s big holiday is Diwali, and then you have one more public holiday for Guru Nanak Jayanti.
  • December – Dec 25 is an eagerly awaited day in Kochi, because Santa will be dropping off gifts and it’s the only public holiday of the month.

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