Thrissur is known as the cultural capital of the state. And during the last week of April, the city gears up for its grandest festival—the Thrissur Pooram. The traditional flag has been hoisted on Thursday and the grounds around the Vadakkunatha temple in the middle of the town wear a festive look.
There are small-time vendors from across the towns, people selling balloons in different shapes and sizes, and small exhibitions of handloom wares all around. But, the day everyone is eagerly waiting for is the 29th of April that falls on a Wednesday. That is the day when around 50 elephants will be decked up and paraded on the grounds.
So, how did it all begin? In the olden days, that is as old as 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 version of the pooram on the grounds of the famous Vadakkumnatha Temple.
Ten different temples—Thiruvambadi Sri Krishna Temple, Kanimangalam Sastha Temple, Laloor Bhagavathy Temple, Sree Karthyayani Temple at Ayyanthole, Nethilakkavu Bagavathy Temple Temple, Paramekkavu Bagavathi Temple, Chembukkavu Bhagavathy Temple, Panamukkumpally Sastha Temple, Choorakkottukavu Bhagavathy Temple, Pookkattikkara Karamukku Baghavathy Temple—bring out their best in everything during the 7 day festival that starts with the traditional flag being hoisted.
On the fourth day of the festival, there is a sample vedikettu, a grand show of pyrotechnics, which lasts for an hour. It is really a sample, for the participants would have reserved the biggest and best for the grand finale.
On Pooram day, people start gathering at the Swaraj grounds around Vadakkumnatha temple for the big show of caparisoned elephants. If you are someone who cannot stop from staring at an elephant in awe, imagine watching around 50 of them walking out of the Vadakumnatha temple in succession. They assemble as two groups and then the kudamattom, the changing of umbrellas take place in quick succession on top of the elephants; The deluge of colours and the grandiose of it all are things that would stay in your minds forever.
On the night of the seventh day, after flag hoisting, there is a grand show of pyrotechnics followed by the tradition of bidding the grand farewell by the participating temples.
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 because the chances are high.