Lakhs of people thronged the Thekkinkad Maidan in the heart of the city on Saturday to soak up the joys of Thrissur Pooram.
Religious ardour mingled with carnival spirit to whip up an event that honoured tradition and propped up a culture of camaraderie unique to the land.
Pooram offered something for everyone. Animal-lovers never got tired of watching their favourite pachyderms weaving through the crowds while drumbeat pounded out a pulsating rhythm. You could not walk through the streets without bumping into herds of elephants, their ears flapping as though they were keeping the beat for the ensembles.
For aficionados of ensembles, there was plenty to choose from – Panchavadyam led by Annamanada Parameswara Marar; Pandimelam with Mattannur Sankarankutty at the helm; and a thunderous, free-floating Ilanjithara Melam, staged near an Ilanji tree in Sree Vadakkunathan temple by veteran Peruvanam Kuttan Marar and his assistants. Each ensemble had a few hundred drummers and pipers, all shirtless and covered in a sheen of sweat as the music worked up to a crescendo.
To the joy of fireworks enthusiasts, the sky shimmered with heat and light as tonnes of explosives went off.
Hordes of Pooram fans descended on the city and savoured every bit of the festival, complete with ceremonies such as ‘Madathil Varavu.'
Crowds waved in joy as 15 elephants each of the Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu contingents stood facing each other and sets of multi-coloured parasols were put on view atop the animals in the ‘Kudamattom' pageant. The excitement was palpable.
Processions from eight downtown temples reached the city at dawn and kicked off the festivities.
Revellers packed every street, their shrieks, shouts, laughter and boisterous songs filling the air. They simply enjoyed basking in sunshine and strolling through the vendor-lined streets, munching fried peanuts, wolfing down pink-coloured machine-spun cotton candy and guzzling watermelon juice. Some of them wore ‘devil horns' for fun. After sunset, the crimson horns shone bright. More ice-cream was consumed than ever before. And more balloons were bought to pacify obdurate children.
Anyone who missed all these had no reason to worry. Because the entire events of the day would be repeated in the next 18 hours.
Panic gripped the venue when an elephant collapsed. Organisers replaced it with another.
Keywords: Pooram Festival