Lord Shiva, Fireworks And Drum Concerts Make This Festival in Kerala Worth A Visit

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Credit: Paul Varuni

Photo of Lord Shiva, Fireworks And Drum Concerts Make This Festival in Kerala Worth A Visit by Suprita Mitter

It's that time of the year. Streets light up, as do villages, cities and towns. The harvest season brings with it, festivities and folklore. Come April, Kerala too finds itself draped in ornate and traditional garb.

Credit: Jayson

Photo of Thrissur, Kerala, India by Suprita Mitter

Credit: Ramesh NG

Photo of Thrissur, Kerala, India by Suprita Mitter

Often called the culture capital of Kerala, Thrissur is located right at the heart of the southern state. The word Thrissur comes from the words Tiru-Shiva-Perur which translates to the town with the name of Lord Shiva. In ancient days, Thrissur was known as Vrishabhadripuram and also Kailasam (Mount Kailas, the abode of Lord Siva in South). It has a culturally rich past and has been a centre of learning since the early years. According to history books, with the decline of Buddhism and Jainism due to the growing supremacy of Brahminism and the revival of Hinduism, Thrissur became an important centre of Sanskrit learning. Even today Thrissur is most popular for its sacred sites and colourful festivals. In the centre of the town lies the Vadakkumnathan Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva and adorned with murals. To the north, is the famous Thiruvambady Temple which is home to several elephants.

Ramesh NG

Photo of Lord Shiva, Fireworks And Drum Concerts Make This Festival in Kerala Worth A Visit by Suprita Mitter

What is Thrissur Pooram?

Thrissur Pooram is an annual Hindu temple festival held in Kerala, India. It is held at the Vadakkunnathan Temple in Thrissur every year on the Pooram day - the day when the moon rises with the Pooram star in the Malayalam Calendar month of Medam. The festival is an absolute spectacle and is considered to be the 'Mother of all Poorams'. The celebration is believed to be a grand assembly of Gods and Goddesses in and around Thrissur, who make their visit to the Vadakumnathan Temple premises on bejeweled elephants accompanied by grand ensembles of Chenda melam and pancha vadyam (traditional drums). The sheer scale of the festival may overwhelm. Ten temples come together and participate in this mega event, and the sheer scale of the festival may overwhelm the faithful as well as visitors.

The story

Thrissur Pooram was the brainchild of Raja Rama Varma, the Maharaja of Cochin (1790–1805). Before the start of Thrissur Pooram, the largest temple festival in Kerala was the one-day festival held at Aarattupuzha known as Arattupuzha Pooram. Temples in and around the city of Thrissur were regular participants. As per legend, one day because of incessant rains, they were late for the Arattupuzha Pooram and were denied access to the Pooram procession. Feeling embarrassed by the denial, the temples went to the Sakthan Thampuran and told their story. In 1798, he unified the 10 temples situated around Vadakkunnathan Temple and organised the celebration of Thrissur Pooram as a mass festival.

Credit: Rohit Ajitkumar

Photo of Lord Shiva, Fireworks And Drum Concerts Make This Festival in Kerala Worth A Visit by Suprita Mitter

What to expect?

The processions and rituals of each of these ten deities follow a very strict itinerary and the tempo of the Pooram celebrations (36 hrs non-stop ) is constantly high and energetic. The Pooram officially begins with the flag hoisting event. The ceremony (Kodiyettam) begins seven days before Thrissur Pooram. All the participating temples are present for the ceremony, and there are fireworks to announce the beginning of the festival. The display usually has innovative patterns and a variety of fireworks. Then there are gorgeous elephants (more than 50) decorated with nettipattam (decorative golden headdress), strikingly crafted Kolam, decorative bells, and ornaments. Interestingly, most of the pandal works are crafted by the Muslim community and the materials for the umbrellas for the Kudamattom ceremony are offered by the churches and their members.

When?

April 26

How to get there?

By air: Thrissur does not have an airport. Nearest airport is Kochi Airport, 56km away.

By train: You can easily get regular trains to Thrissur from other major cities of the country. The railway stations are, Thrissur (TCR), Divine Nagar (DINR) and Thrissur Punkunnam (PNQ).

By road: There are regular buses from other major cities of the country to Thrissur.

Where to stay?

Hotel Trichur Towers or Niramayam Heritage Ayurveda Retreat. For more options check here.

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