Thrissur Pooram-The Most Spectacular Temple Festival of Kerala
'Pooram' is a Malayalam word denoting the meaning grand festival. 'Thrissur Pooram' in Kerala is one of the most spectacular and popular temple festivals of this land. As its popularity and features are so stunning and vibrant, it can even be termed as 'The Pooram of all Poorams'.
This festival is celebrated every year in the Malayalam month of Medam. This may appear either in April or May. The permanent festival venue is at Vadakkumnathan Temple in the center of Thrissur city. Thrissur is the 'Cultural Capital' of Kerala. This is one of the 14 districts of Kerala and geographically situates almost the middle of the state. Ernakulam, Malappuram and Palakkad are the neighboring districts.
Eight temples (apart from the major ones- Paramekkavu andThiruvambadi) in and around Thrissur town take part in the festival. The performance of the celebrated percussionists in the state is one of the most sought after events of this festival. The grand show of the percussionists is a wonderful display of sound and rhythm. They are teamed up in two fractions- Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi. The people of Thrissur forget everything once the 'melam' begins. They sing and dance with the incredible symphony being orchestrated by the highly professional percussionists.
The Myth and History
It is believed that the dynastic god and goddesses of neighboring temples meet together, every year for a day of celebration. The Thiruvambadi and Paramekkavu Devaswoms are the major temple authorities to make the festival and celebrations the most remarkable one.
To talk on history about the Pooram, Thrissur Pooram started about two hundred years ago. It was on the special interest and guidance of the then ruler of Kochi, Sakthan Thampuran or Raja Rama Varma in the year 1798. He was a king known for his good administration. He decided to break tradition and started to celebrate the pooram festival inviting the temples belonging to his region. Till then there were some problems brewing between various groups running the nearby temples. Sakthan Thampuran united some ten temples situated around Vadakkumnathan temple and organized a mass festival which came be known as Thrissur Pooram.
The temples were grouped into two- The Western and the Eastern. The Western group as 'Thiruvambady' consisting of Kannimangalam, Laloor, Ayyanthole, Nethilakkavu and the Thiruvambadi temple as the main one. The other group known as Eastern group was termed 'Paramekkavu' consisting of Karamukku, Chembukavu, Choorakotukavu and Panamamakkampilly and the Paramekkavu temple as the head.
The venue was fixed at the center around the Vadakkumnathan temple (exactly at Thekkinkkadu Maidan or ground). All the above temples would send their pooram (the complete procession) to pay obeisance to Lord Shiva, the presiding deity. The full credit for chalking our the programs and the connected events of the Thrissur Pooram festival thus go to Shakthan Thampuran.
Fabulous Features of the Festival
This being the 'pooram of poorams', justifiably attracts a large crowd. The Pooram starts with the Kannimangalam Sasthavu Ezhunnallippu (procession) in the early morning, followed by Ezhunnallippu of other six temples. People from across the state come all the way to Thrissur to witness this mammoth festival. Both domestic and international tourists make it sure not to miss the event if they are in Kerala during the festival season (April/May). In fact no one, especially the one who has witnessed the festival at least once, wishes to skip this most magnificent cultural extravaganza of Kerala.
The festival lasts for 36 hours offering a wide variety of visual treats to the visitors. I brief here some of the most notable features as given below:
'Madathil varavu' is one of the major attractive events of the festival. It is a 'panchavadya melam' participating more than 20 artists. The 'melam' or orchestra is performed using 'Thimila', 'Madhalam', Trumpet, Cymbal and 'Edakka'. (These are different types of instruments and their Malayalam names).
Ilanhithara (Elanjithara) Melam
The famous 'Ilanhithara melam' starts at 2 0' clock inside the Vadakkumnathan temple. If you love 'melam', please do come here. The fest gives you a golden chance to enjoy the thrilling performance of the 'melam' maestros.
Exhibition (Anachamya Pradharshanam)
There is a grand exhibition known as 'Ana Chamaya Pradharshanam' to exhibit the colourful and glittering elephant decorations. Don't miss it as it showcases such a wonderful craftsmanship of seasoned artists.
This is a rare kind of display and the major attraction of the Pooram. Here, at the end of Pooram, both Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi groups enter the temple through the western gate and come out through the southern gate. They array themselves, face to face at distant places. Then the two groups exchange colorful and crafted umbrellas with a competitive mind at the top of the elephants. The 'melam' will be at its full swing during the process. Besides 'melam' you can enjoy the beauty of the elephants paraded wearing colorful ornaments and decorations like 'Alavattom', 'Venchamaram', decorative bells and 'Muthukkuda' (decorated umbrellas). 'Kudamattom' is a fantastic experience. You are totally engrossed and forget time while watching. Please observe the video of 'Kudamattom' I appended on the right side of this text.
Video of Thrissur Pooram Fireworks (Vedikkettu)
During the festival night all roads lead to Thrissur Thekkinkadu maidan. All are in a hurry mission not to to miss the most spectacular and colorful fireworks. It is a display of sound and light produced by a superb array of crackers and sparklers. The charming fireworks will last for hours offering the spectators an unforgettable experience. It has to be enjoyed. It has to be experienced. You can skip any events related to the Pooram but not the fireworks. It is great, no, the greatest Pooram experience.
The cultural fest called 'Thrissur Pooram' is a wonderful display of sound, light, elephants and a never ending passion of festivity. Missing the fest means you lose a grand exhibition Kerala offers to the world. If still doubtful, listen what UNESCO has certified the Pooram: Thrissur Pooram is the most spectacular festival event on the planet.
Wherever you are on the planet please go for the show at least once in your lifetime. The only advice I wish to give you is do not forget to carry your camera and a tiny scribbling pad when you start. This will surely help to capture some amazing snaps and record the fascinating festival features on the spot.
Have you ever witnessed the famous Thrissur Pooram?
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This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2013 Sunil Kumar Kunnoth