Kerala, known as God's Own Country, has its own way of attracting tourists to the paradise. While making an itinerary for the state, I came across a very interesting festival in a small town of Thrissur, which is a famous tourist spot because of it's very famous Guruvayoor Temple.
When is the festival celebrated?
Also known as Kerala's annual festival, it is celebrated every year in the month of Medam, according to the Malayalam Calendar, which falls in April or May (English Calendar). The main day of the Pooram is on the full moon day of the month of Medam.
The event will be held from 30th April to 1st May in the Thrissur district of Kerala.
Where is it celebrated?
The historical Vadakkunnathan (Shiva) Temple of Thrissur holds the celebration every year. Other than this temple, several Hindu temples of Kerala are also decorated to mark the festivities.
Why is it celebrated?
Before even they started celebrating the Thrissur Pooram festival, there used to be a one day festival at Arattupuzha Pooram Temple (which still takes places), where once the participants reached late due to heavy rains and they were not allowed to enter.
When this incident took place, all the participants rushed to Raja Rama Verma, Maharaja of Cochin (now Kochi) , shared their anger about the denial and the King ensured that the 10 temples around Vadakkunnathan Temple will come in unison and started the Thrissur Pooram festival in the 18th century (1798).
The Vadakkunnathan Temple is known to be the center of all the temples and hence the festival is celebrated here.
How is it celebrated?
The week long festival starts with Melam (rhythmic accompaniment of the sound of musical instruments), followed by Kodiyettam (flag hoisting) ceremony. The center of attraction is folk dance, an elephant parade, fireworks and panchavadyam (rhythmic drum beats).
Elephants play a vital role during this festival. They are decorated with Nettipattam (golden head gear), decorative bells and various ornaments. On the main day of the festival, which was being held on 10th May 2022, 30 elephants took part. It was mentioned that some 60 to 70 tuskers are a part of the smaller processions for the festival to be held in the participating temples.
A custom called Poora Vilambaram, is performed by one of the elephants, where the idol of 'Neithilakkavilamma' is placed atop the elephant and the south gate of the temple is pushed by the elephant's legs.
Display of Fireworks
There are two rounds of fireworks that take place. First, on the fourth day of the Pooram after the flag hoisting and the second on the main festival day.
The fireworks show on the fourth day of the festival is a one hour show and usually has innovative patterns and varieties of fireworks.
The seventh day of the Pooram is the farewell ceremony, also known as 'Pakal Pooram'. The festival ends with a display of fireworks known as Pakal Vedikettu.
The ending of the festivals:
The festival ends with a farewell ceremony, known as 'Upacharam Cholli Piriyal'. The two deities (Lord Shri Krishna and Lord Bagavathi) bid goodbye to each other at the center point with the promise of meeting again next year in the presence of Lord Vadakkunnathan Shiva.
The two deities are taken back to their respective temples, which marks the end of the Pooram celebrations.
Cultural influence of the festival:
Despite being a Hindu festival, the Thrissur Pooram is attended not only by Hindus, but also by people from different castes, religions and places. They even actively take part in the preparation for the festival.
Undoubtedly, it's one of the most unique festivals that I've ever attended and it showed me a different side of Kerala.
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