What is Thrissur Pooram?
A spectacular display of elephant parades, fireworks, ritual art forms, and drum orchestras are what define Thrissur Pooram. Celebrated in Thrissur, Kerala, it is one of the largest temple festivals. Temple festivals are quite grand in Kerala. Observed by Malayalees, Thrissur Pooram is celebrated on the day when the moon rises with the pooram (Purva Phalguni) star in the Malayalam Calendar.
The history behind Thrissur Pooram
A vibrant and glorious spectacle, there is always a Pooram happening in Kerala. However, the biggest celebrations are held in the month of April or May. Started in the year 1798, Thrissur Pooram was first organized by the Maharaja of Kochi, Raja Rama Varma. Before Thrissur Pooram, the biggest temple festival was Azattupuzha Pooram. The temples of Thrissur were stranded due to heavy rains because of which they were denied entry to the festival’s processions. Embarrassed and humiliated, the temples of Thrissur with the help of the Maharaja took the decision to organize a pooram exclusively for Thrissur. This led to the coming together of 10 temples - Paramekkavu, Thiruvambadi Kanimangalam, Karamucku, Laloor, Choorakottukara, Panamukkampally, Ayyanthole, Chembukkavu, and Neythilakavu.
How is Thrissur Pooram celebrated?
Festivals have a way of bringing together people from different communities. Thrissur Pooram is no different. People from different religions take part in these 2 day long celebrations giving it an inclusive and welcoming touch. The syncretism intrinsic to Thrissur Pooram makes it truly a community event
Beautifully decked up elephants in vibrant costumes and mesmerizing songs and dance performances leave the spectators awestruck. During the festival, two groups compete against one another in a riotous display of the most lavish decorations and the best performances. In other words, Thrissur Pooram is a real show!
Among the various highlights of the festival, the one that stands out the most is the grand and magnificent elephant parade. For the parade, only the best elephants of the state are sent to the festival to participate. Decked up in vibrant costumes, these elephants are the star attractions of Thrissur Pooram every year. Currently, the lead elephant is the 54-year-old Thechikottukavu Ramachandran. The one-eyed quinquagenarian also holds the distinction of being the tallest elephant in Kerala and is a sight to behold. Take a look at the elephant opening the gates of the ancient temple.
Another key highlight of the festival is the ilanjitharamelam or the ‘drum orchestra’. People are seen gathering around the drums and dancing to the beats created by the Keralite instrument. This festival involves the creation of new headdresses from scratch each year. These headdresses are also called nettipattam and augment the beauty of the elaborate decorations. Highly skilled laborers are entrusted with the task of creating and adorning these headdresses.
Kuddamattom is a very special section of the celebrations. This competition involves the swift movement of colorful parasols making it look like a beautiful dance. What is equally impressive about this competition is the fact that it is performed whilst sitting on an elephant’s back.
And finally, the two-day long celebrations are beautifully ended with a stunning display of fireworks. These fireworks are the grand finale and crowds eagerly wait for this segment. The innovative and unique fireworks displayed every year stun people across all age groups. The enthusiasm of the crowd is a testimonial to the joy this festival brings in the life of every resident of Thrissur and makes them eagerly wait for the next year's celebrations with a child-like enthusiasm.