Thrissur Pooram is one the biggest, most colorful temple festival of Kerala, held in the cultural capital of Kerala, Thrissur. Thrissur Pooram is celebrated at the famous Vadakunnathan Temple, which is located in Thekkinkadu Maidanam, which also is one of the largest roundabouts in the world, spanning over 65 acres. It is celebrated on the Pooram Nakshatram (star) of the Malayalam month of Medom (April-May). It is believed that God and Goddesses meet each other annually on this occasion.
Thrissur Pooram was initially introduced by erstwhile King of Cochin, Raja Rama Varma, also famously known as Sakthan Thampuran. Before Thrissur Pooram, there was another grand one day temple festival held at Aaratupuzha, 12km south of Thrissur. Temples situated in and around thrissur used to participate in this festival. But, one day due to heavy rain, they arrived late and was denied entry to the festival to uphold the supremacy of Namboodiris, which is the dominant Brahmin caste in Kerala.
Raja Rama Varma
When Raja Rama Varma came to know about this incident, HE took it upon himself to hold a more extragavant and grand festival to make up for this incident. HE also directed the two main temples Paramekkavu Temple and Thiruvambadi Temple(which were never under the Namboodiris control) to help other participating temples. This secular nature of festival is evident, as people of all caste, colour or religion participate in this festival in every way possible. It is said that most of the pandal works are crafted by Muslim community and the materials for the umbrellas for ‘Kudamattom’ are offered by the churches and their members.
The Prince ordained the temples into two groups- Paramekkavu Temple(Eastern Group) and Thiruvambady Temple(Western Group). These two Temples are chief participants. Other participants, called the "cherupooram", which are the eight neighboring temples join them in the festivities.
Western Group consists of Thiruvambadi Sri Krishna Temple, Kanimangalam Sastha Temple, Laloor Bhagavathy Temple, Sree Karthyayani Temple at Ayyanthole, Nethilakkavu Baghavathy Temple.
The Pooram is celebrated for seven days. The celebrations officially begin with Flag Hoisting (Kodiyettam). Most of the temples have a permanent flag posts but pooram flag will be hoisted on a makeshift post made out of Arecanut tree. The post is cut in ritualistic style, the carpenter (Desathe assari) undergoes one week vow and also does bhoomi puja. All the ten temples hoist the flags, as a sign of officially beginning the Pooram celebrations.
This is one of the biggest trade fairs in whole of South India, which is conducted in the vicinity of Vadakunnathan Temple at Thekkinkadu Ground. The exhibition is open from morning 10 a.m. to night 10 p.m. There are about 200 stalls and 80 pavillions. There are agricultural, industrial, educational and cultural exhibitions, amusement rides for children and food stalls are also there in this exhibition.
Exhibition Entrance for 2017
During the Thrissur Pooram Three Mammoth Pandals are created around the Swaraj Ground. Two of the Pandals by Thiruvambady Temple and one by Paramekkavu Temple. Pandals will be located at Naickanal, Naduvilal and Manikandanaalu.
Pandals of Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu for 2017
Sample Vedikettu-(Firework Display)
One of the main attractions of Pooram is the firework display. The fireworks (Sample Vedikettu) displayed on the fourth day is just the first round of pyrotechnics . It starts in the evening by 7.30 p.m. and lasts for about one hour. Both Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu temples compete with each other to provide the crowd with the best and the most unexpected firework display at Swaraj Round. Every year the displays have innovative patterns.
Chamayakazcha (Elephant Accoutrements Exhibition)
Chamayakazcha is the display of decorations and ornaments, which is an amazing experience of pooram which is open for 36 hours. The golden elephant caparison (Nettipattam), elephant accoutrements (Chamayam), ornamental fan made of peacock feathers (Aalavattom), royal fan (Venchamarom), sacred bells and decorative umbrellas are prepared new by Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu Devawsoms separately. Paramekkavu Devaswom exhibits this at the Agrasala Hall and the Thiruvambady Devaswom will display the caparisons at the Church Mission Society High School in Thrissur City.
The festival commences with the procession (Ezhunellippu) of Kanimangalam Shasta in the morning and followed by the ezhunellippu of the other participant temples. All the ten temples meet at the Vadakunnathan Temple and greet Lord Shiva. The Vadakunnathan Temple, remains a spectator during the festival, by granting the premises and convenience for the festival.
After routine poojas and "para nirakkal" (making an offering to gods by way of filling the paras; para is cylindrical measuring device) in the morning, the Devi starts for pooram with Lord Krishna's "Kolam" and Devi's "Thidambu" and move towards Shoranur Road Naickanal, old nadakavu to Brahmasom Madhom. Then the three elephants move towards western round through Pazhanadakkavu, which is one of the major event in Thrissur pooram-“Madathil varavu”- which is a panchavadhyam melam (classical percussion concert), participating more than 200 artists, consists of Thimila, Madhalam, Trumpet, Cymbal and Edakka (Different types of instruments), which will conclude at Naickanal pandal at 3.00pm. The procession will move to "Sree Moolasthanam" with 15 elephants and "pandy melam". The melam concludes at 5.00pm and then enters the Vadakumnathan temple.
After the routine poojas and "para nirakkal" in the morning and meeting and greeting the Lord Shiva at Vadakunnathan Temple; by 12.30 noon Devi comes out and the famous "purappadu" starts with 15 elephants. The melam starts with "Chempada" (longest in duration and magnificent in performance) during these Kudamattam will be performed. The pandy melam will start at 2 p.m. and the procession moves to Vadakumnathan Temple for the thrilling and famous "Elingithataramelam" (classical percussion concert). At 4.30pm the melam concludes and the procession exits through southern gopuram, and the "thripuda" melam will accompany the procession. The procession will face the southern gopuram stationing at the round.
The procession of Thiruvambady Temple, will make a grand entry through the Southern gate of the Vadakunnathan Temple. This marks the beginning of Devine Durbar.
The two groups in the presence of melam, change colourful and crafted umbrellas/parasols competitively at the top of the elephants – called Kudamattom, which is an eye catching attraction of the pooram. A sea of people gather around in excitement to witness this enchanting display of parasols by either teams. The whole procession is a spectacular event of the festival.
Scene during Kudamattam
Paramekkavu Team's Parsols
Thriuvambady Team's Parsols
Paramekkavu Team's Parsols
Thiruvamvady Team's Parsols
Paramekkavu Team's Parsols
Thiruvambady Team's Parsols
Then at night, around 11 30 pm, there is a procession with 7 elephants, similar to the mornings and afternoons, by both temples, and ends by 2.30 am. The procession is preceded by people carrying lit torches.
Pooram at Night
This Vedikettu is said to the best anywhere in Kerala, because of the intensity of the experience. The fireworks actually begin with one side, either the Paramekkavu or Thiruvambay temple, starting off with small fireworks, then pretty amuttus (colorful sparklers), gundus which are louder, and so on, each of them rising from pits dug in the ground in front of Vadakkunnathan Temple, to the final finishing, as it is called, where you feel, see, and hear in massive explosions, and experience the thrill of it all.
Fireworks in the morning
Koodikazcha (Farewell Program)
Next day, about 8 am, in the morning, both the temples bring their Devis, accompanied by their lot of 15 elephants each, and their respective musicians playing the melam and panchavaadyam, to the Eastern gopuram of Vadakkunnathan, at the Sreemoolasthanam. This is a meeting to formally bid farewell, and promise to meet again, on Pooram Nakshatram, of Medom Month in the next Malayalam Calender year. Finally, the two elephants carrying the Thidambu of the Devis, come forward, curl their trunks, in a gesture of undying loyalty and faith, and familial love, after which they part ways, each to its own temple, carrying the precious Devi proudly aloft for all the natives to finally bid them good bye, till next year
How to Reach Thrissur?
By Air- Nearest Airport to Thrissur is the Cochin International Airport, which is 55 km away from the Thrissur city.
By Rail - Thrissur Railway Station is appro. 1 km away from the city.
Where to Stay?
Pooram International - 2,500/- per night
Joys Palace - 3899/- per night
Casio Hotel - 2474/- per night
Merlin International - 1750/- per night
The Garuda - 2890/- per night
Hotel Palace Tower- 995/- per night
Next year Thrissur Pooram is to be held on 13th May, 2019.