FRIDAY REVIEW

Magnificent spectacle

A pageant of rare splendour.

A pageant of rare splendour.  

SUMMER FESTIVALS in Kerala reach a crescendo with the Peruvanam Aaraattupuzha Pooram, which is scheduled to take place this year on March 23. This festival has earned the sobriquet `Pooram of poorams,' owing to its stature in respect of antiquity, pageantry and rituals.

According to legend, Peruvanam in Thrissur district was the most significant among the 64 gramams (villages) that Parasurama had divided Kerala into. KPC Narayanan Bhattathiripad, tantri, says there are enough indications that speak for the hoariness of the temples in this gramam. The inscriptions on the walls of major temples, `Aayaathu Sivalokam... ,' when deciphered using the ingenious alphanumerical computation of astrology, gives the year of the commencement of the Pooram as AD 583. A festival of mammoth proportions in ancient times, the Pooram marked the congregation of the deities of 108 gods and goddesses representing an equal number of temples. But, now only 24 temples participate as many of the temples dropped out owing to a variety of reasons. With four Sasthavu temples at the four corners of Peruvanam gramam - Akamala in the north, Kuthiraan in the east, Oozhathu in the south and Edathirithi in the west - it covers a wide area. In the past, the entire region wore a festive look for 28 days. The spiritual importance of the Pooram is evident from the belief that in temples across the whole country from Badarinath to Kanyakumari, athazha puja on the day of the Pooram would be completed early so as to enable the gods to attend the festival.

Interestingly, Aaraattupuzha Sasthavu plays host to the 24 deities that arrive at his abode at different times on the day of the Pooram.

Thriprayar Thevar commands much respect and surprisingly it is he - and not Aaraattupuzha Sasthavu - who presides over the great exposition, scheduled to take place on March 24.

It is a pageant of rare splendour. Four scores of elephants line up in a single file. `Irattayappan,' the presiding deity of Peruvanam Mahadeva Kshetram, is not taken out in a procession to participate in the Aaraattupuzha Pooram. Explains Bhattathiripad: "The rituals at this temple sets a role model for other Poorams."

It is believed that `panchaari melam' and the style of adornments of the elephants, including the present style of the caparison, took shape at Peruvanam itself. Umbrellas used are devoid of decorations. The pandhams (torches), resembling jasmine buds, are smokeless as the coconut oil used to burn them is specially prepared several months in advance. Fireworks, common to all festivals, are conspicuous by its absence at the Peruvanam temple.

G.S. PAUL

Photo: K.K. Najeeb

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