The Annual Grand Feast of the Shrine falls on the third Sunday after Easter. The feast of St.Joseph, the Universal Patron is observed here. It is one of the most significant church festivals of Kerala.
The Novena starts with the feast at St.Antony’s Chapel, just in front of the shrine. After the holy mass at the chapel, the flag having the holy picture of the St. Joseph is hoisted on the metal pillar (this is known as kodimaram) and it marks the beginning of the feast.
Special ceremonies are observed on all Nine days. On the eve, the Saturday, special Holy Mass (known as Naivedya Puja) is said and together with it the “Holy food” of the feast is blessed.
In the evening High Holy Mass is sung and the holyStatue is presented for public veneration (Kooduthurakkal) Following it, the first set of fireworks display gives solace and joy to the thousands of devotees gathered. Later at midnight, the grand competitive display of fire works (from the two sections of the parish) takes place and it lasts for three hours. From 3 o’clock to 9 o’clock Holy Masses are offered and at 10 am we have the Grand High Mass followed by the Novena and the Procession.
One of the chief features of the Grand Feast is the Bangle procession (Vala Ezhunnallippu). The Holy statue of St. Joseph of Pavaratty church has having the legendary blossoming Lily in hand; the holy father is presented as a bridegroom with bracelets (bangles) on his arms
THE FLAG HOSTING
The flag masts of well – known institutions and shrines have some significance. Most of them have historical, mythological, legendary or formal significance. At first the shrine had only temporary flag-posts erected at the time of the festival, just in front of the church. Permanent flag mast was grown at a point near the road; and later, this gave way to the present metallic mast. Since its institution believers take it as a symbol of their faith.
The encavement, where the holy statue of St. Joseph instituted in the Main Altar, is opened (Kooduthurakkal) for ceremonial public veneration on the eve of the Grand Feast. After the Holy High Mass in the late afternoon, this ritual is performed and it is marked with the first set of fireworks display.
After the High Mass and Sermon the Grand Procession is held. Thousands of devotees who have gathered at the Shrine take part in the Procession and gain Blessings of the Father. Grandeur is attributed to the Procession by the band-music, gilted colourful velvet umbrellas, fireworks etc. The Procession proceeds under the canopied “Pallinada” to reach St.Antony’s Chapel. On return the Procession goes round the “Kodimaram” and reaches the Shrine.
Every celebration is fulfilled with a banquet. So also the feasts at churches. Formerly all the faithful were sharing freely in a banquet of love; later a minimal amount got fixed for the ticket for the same. It is believed that St. Joseph himself is giving food to the devotees by his hands. More than one lakh devotees participate in this divine function. Pilgrims wait in queue even for a long time at busy hours to part-take in the holy feast. It is believed that by participating in this function illnesses will be cured and the devotees get special blessings of St.Joseph. This function has been part and parcel of the Feast since the beginning.