Thrissur Pooram is synonymous with elephants, parasols, and fireworks. It is a festival that garners international attention. But, it is not just the elephants that make the festival special. It is the mood, the backdrop of percussion instruments and the general vibe in the air that makes it a festival that has to be experienced.
What makes Thrissur Pooram special
It is a display of grandeur and elegance. A competition between two of the most powerful devaswaoms of the region, who go all out to outshine the other, every single time. It is all about devotion and for the 'Pooram fanatics' an event they wait for every year without fail. It is a show of elephants, decorations, parasols, 'melams' and fireworks. And for everyone in Thrissur, it is not just a festival, but a way of life. But there are some voices of dissent that come up time and again about the use of elephants for the festival
So, how did it all begin?
In the olden days, that is way back in the 1790s, the biggest of the poorams was held in Arattupuzha. One year, the group from Thrissur were denied entry for the pooram because they were late. And the group approached King Shaktan Thampuran and told him their woes. Shaktan Thampuran, the shrewd visionary that he was, saw an opportunity in this sad incident. He brought two of the oldest temples of the region—the Thiruvambadi and Paramelkavu—together and told them to host their own versions of the pooram on the grounds of the famous Vadakkumnatha Temple. This, he knew would allow the growth of trade and commerce – and a look at the town will tell you that his plan worked.
What to look out for
Ceremonies begin early, with the procession from the Kannimangalam Sastha temple entering the Vadakkumnatha Temple premises through the entrance at the South. But the main show begins with the 'Purappadu' by Paramekkavu Temple group and 'Madathil Varavu' by the Thiruvambadi group, respectively.
Ilangjitharamelam: If you love music and the beat of the chenda you will love the Ilanjitharamelam. At times, this lasts for four hours and you can feel the notes reverberate.
The Kudamattam: Fifteen elephants will line up for Paramekkavu Temple group and as many for the Thiruvambady Temple group. And then the display of colourful parasols, the 'alavattams' and the 'venchamarams' will take the center-stage. This is an event you should not miss.
Night Pooram: The Pooram continues at night after the pujas. And that is when the colourful and florescent parasols come out. Since it is after sun-down, it gets a bit cooler.
Fireworks display: At around 3am, the procession moves to see the fireworks. And then the skies open up in colour. This event is very spectacular to say the least.
Parting ways: Normally, people return after the firework display. Stay back, for you can see a couple of small Poorams and the famous 'Upacharam cholli piriyal', which is the ritual of the Thiruvambadi Goddess saying farewell to the other Gods who have assembled for the Pooram.
This year too, various civic bodies have come together for the extravaganza. The authorities will be setting up e-toilets at various places around the round. Milma has joined hands with the civic bodies to distribute butter milk to the people who will gather at the grounds. Ten major roads leading to the grounds will be repaired. Police officers said 3,500 policemen will be deployed for Pooram security.
If you are planning to go to the festival, you have to be very careful. It is a large gathering of people and pickpockets are common even though there will be a lot of policemen. Take care of your personal belongings.
If you are a foreign national, it is ideal to get in touch with the temple authorities. There are special platforms that gives you a good view of the events from close quarters. Make sure you don't become separated from your group in the crowds.