The Vela festival features a colourful procession of 30 caprisoned elephants.

Temple festivals in the district are attracting a large number of foreign tourists.

A group of academics from France visited Kalimuthu Bhagavathy Temple at Kulavnamokku, near Alathur, on Thursday to watch the festival. They are here to learn about temple festivals in India.

The Kalimuthu Bhagavathy Temple festival is celebrated on the fourth day of Vishu. There are 13 `Desams' (small villages), with 12 Desams on one side and Edakkad Desam on the other side.

The Vela festival features a colourful procession of 30 caprisoned elephants, traditional drum concerts, `Singarimelam,' `Kumbhakali,' `Pookavadi,' `Malaya Porat,' `Vandi Vesham' and `Panchavadyam.'

In the evening, all the Velas set off from different Desams and move in a procession round the Pulpora Mannam to reach Kalimuthu Temple.

The French team is headed by Sylvian of Georges Pompiden High School, Paris.

The group was here after a visit to Alappuzha and Kochi. Mr. Sylvian said they had visited many parts of India to see and learn about temple festivals.

M.M. Basheer, managing director of Sahya Eco Tours, which organised the trip, said the team spent a day in the villages in Palakkad. They lived in tents in a coconut garden at Thenur, near Palakkad town.

He said a large number of tourists from Europe, Germany and France have evinced interest in watching the temple festivals of Kerala.

Many groups have already visited Palakkad to witness the Kalpathy Car Festival, Nemmara-Vallangy Vela, Manappullikavu Vela, Chinakkthur Pooram, etc.