The Thrissur Pooram embraces lofty social ideals of unity, understanding, and brotherhood in society.
The elephants with their majestic trunks will be back. So will the trumpets and te drums. It is Pooram once again. Balmy weather, sweat and grime notwithstanding, the rhythm and vibration do not fail to strike a chord with the people. If festivals are an indispensable part of life in Kerala, Thrissur Pooram is the mother of all melas.
The Pooram celebrations, which bring together Hindus, Christians and Muslims, are a rare example of communal amity. The festival embraces lofty social ideals of unity, understanding and brotherhood.
Unique in its spectacle, rituals and participation, Thrissur Pooram attracts large masses of devotees and spectators from across the world. It is a curious assortment of ceremonies, traditional ensembles, pyrotechnic shows and elephant parades.
It is a cultural experience without parallel. It is Thrissur's pride and joy. Thrissur Pooram will unfurl in all its splendour and glory at the Thekkinkad Maidan on May 1.
Celebrated in the Malayalam month of Medam (April - May), Thrissur Pooram signifies the symbolic meeting of the deities of a few famous temples in the region.
The main participants in the 36-hour festival are the deities from Paramekkavu and Thiruvambady temples. Eight other minor temples participate in the festival. They are Ayyanthole, Karamukku, Lalur, Neythalakkavu, Choorakkattukara, Chembukkavu, Kanimangalam and Panamukkampilly. The programmes organised by these temples are known as ‘Cherupoorams.'
Adhering to the medieval Peruvanam tradition, the festival is confined to the temples of Devi (goddess) and Sastha (divine combination of Shiva and Vishnu). Idols from 10 temples are brought to the abode of Lord Vadakkunnathan, the presiding deity of Thrissur, on Pooram day.
Figures of Lord Sastha are brought from Kanimangalam and Panamukkampilly, and those of Devi from the rest.
The meticulously-planned festivities begin with ‘Ezhunnellippu' of Kanimangalam Sastha in the morning accompanied by percussion ensembles. It is followed by processions (‘Cheru Poorams') inching towards the city from the other participating temples.
The convergence of these processions at the festival venue is an awe-inspiring sight.
According to legend, Thrissur Pooram began in 1803. Sakthan Thampuran re-structured the annual festival in its present form. Over the years, the festival has become a socio-religious event involving all sections of society.
A festive mood pervades the city since the opening of the Pooram exhibition. The friendly competition between Paramekkavu and Thiruvambady contingents, especially in ceremonies such as ‘Kootti Ezhunnelippu' and ‘Kudamattom', presentation of percussion ensembles and display of fireworks, animates the festival.
The traditional percussion ensembles are an appropriate accompaniment to the visual treats. The Ilanjithara Melam and Thiruvambady Devaswom's Melam at the Sree Moolasthanam are the best platforms for Pandimelam.
The famous ‘Madathil varavu' ceremony of Thiruvambady Devaswom features the best ‘Panchavadyam' played in the State. The spectacular ‘Kudamattom,' in which myriad parasols are displayed atop elephants is another highlight of Pooram. Each team keeps its collection of colourful umbrellas a secret. Each temple spends lakhs to make these umbrellas.
Devaswoms compete each other to parade the most majestic elephants.
Almost all legendary elephants such as Guruvayur Kesavan, Guruvayur Padmanabhan, Chengalloor Ranganathan, Poomulli Sekharan, Paliyam Govindan, Kirangattu Kesavan and Paramekkavu Sree Padmanabhan had participated in the Pooram.
A fireworks display at the Thekkinkad Maidan is the pièce de résistance of Pooram. The sound of crackers is music to the ears of Pooram lovers. The Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu Devaswoms present innovative patterns and varieties of fireworks. The more, the merrier. From puffs, fizzes and pops to dazzling flecks and multi-coloured light, pooram attracts huge crowds.
Pooram ends with ‘Upacharam Chollal,' farewell ceremony. The idols of Thiruvambady Bhagavathy and Paramekkavu Bhagavathy are then taken back to the respective temples.