Known as the festival of festivals, Thrissur Pooram is a spectacle of much grandeur, a tradition of over 100 years. This spectacular event was the brainchild of the erstwhile ruler of Kochi – Raja Ravi Varma who is also known as Sakthan Thampuran. The festival is held in the Malayalam month of Medam (April-May), and the events take place at the Vadakkumnathan temple situated in the heart of Thrissur town and the adjoining Thekkinkadu ground.
The pooram festival mainly happens between two groups namely Paramekkavu and
Thiruvambadi. The richly caparisoned elephants, Kudamattom or the swift changing of
brightly coloured and embellished umbrellas, accompanied by Panchavadyam or the
traditional orchestra, dazzling fireworks and the exuberant cheering of the crowd – as the
competition between the two groups tighten, more the festivity and the fun, endless.
How it all started
Before Thrissur Pooram, the only other Pooram that existed in Kerala was the Arattupuzha
Pooram, which was held kilometres away from Thrissur. Ages ago, one day, many couldn’t
take part in the Arattupuha Pooram on time because of the heavy rains that drenched the
God’s own Country. As they were late they weren’t allowed to enter the temple premises.
The people informed Shakthan Thampuran of this matter and as a reward to his people; he
decided to start another Pooram of his own. Thus a more extravagant and larger Pooram
was born, which people all across Kerala celebrate today as Thrissur Pooram.
Poorachamayam – Artefacts involved
Everything used for the Pooram is freshly made every year from scratch, such as the
Nettipattam – golden elephant caparisons, Chamayam – elephant accoutrements, Aalavattom
– ornamental fan made of peacock feathers, Venchamaram – royal fan, sacred bells and
decorative umbrellas which are the eye-catchy and peculiar features of the Pooram. These
items are made and supplied by Muslims and Church authorities near-by, which shows the
secular nature of the festival.
Poorakazhcha – Observances
The seven day long festival begins with kodiyettam or the flag hoisting. The other days are
dedicated to the preparation of the Pooram. The Pooram celebration starts early morning
with the Kanimangalam sasthavu ezhunellippu. The procession takes the representation of
the Goddess of Thiruvambadi to Brahmaswam Mutt. The arrival of the procession to the
mutt is accompanied by panchavadyam called madathil varavu. It is one of the most awaited
Pooram event performed by 200 odd artists with thimila, madhalam, kombu or trumpet,
ilathalam aka cymbal and edakka. The Pooram sets out of Paramekkavu temple by noon
with the accompaniment of one-hour long chembada melam and the beautiful Ilanjithara
melam – which is the orchestra consisting of chenda, kombu, nadaswaram and ilathalam
held in front of the Ilanji tree. Then comes Thekkotirakkam or the meeting of the two
temple groups of Thiruvambadi and Paramekkavu for Kudamattom (exchange of colourfully
crafted parasols). To the end of the melam, both Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu sides stay
in face to face as they exchange colourful and crafted umbrellas competitively at the top of
the elephants. As part of the farewell ceremony, the idols from Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu temples are taken back to the respective temples. The festivities continue with the major fireworks at early morning, the pakal pooram held on the next day and the grand
fireworks following it. Finally, the Pooram celebrations conclude with the ceremonial
departure called upacharam cholli piriyal.
Thrissur pooram is a must-attend festival in Kerala and a true sight to behold. The world
famous aesthetics of the pyrotechnics should be witnessed at least once in a lifetime.
Thrissur Pooram is the only occasion where you get to see more than 50 elephants, all
decorated with caparisons beautifully aligned in a row amidst an ocean of people. People all
over the world attend the festival with no restriction on gender, race or religion.
How to reach?
- No vehicle will be allowed to the temple premises on the day of the Pooram. So
the devotees coming by any means of transport will have to walk 1.1 km from
the Swaraj round/Thrissur round to the temple.
- As the Vadakkumnathan temple and the Thekkinkadu ground are only 450 m
distance apart, it is easy for Pooram enthusiasts to shift between these places
according to the progress of the events.
- Thrissur town is only 1.4 km away. So if someone prefers private vehicle, they
can take the Kodungallur – Shornur road, around the Swaraj round and park it
there and walk the rest.
- If you reach the municipal bus stand, walk around the Swaraj round for nearly
1.2 km to reach the temple.
- As the Thrissur railway station is located just 1.4 km away from there, people can
hire an auto-rickshaw till they reach Swaraj round and walk the rest.
- Coming via air transport reach Cochin International Airport, and make use of
KURTC services to reach Thrissur, which is located approximately 53 km away.
Where to stay?
There are many hotels, homes and resorts available in all kind of rates located at the
proximity of the temple. But you will have to act fast and pre-book as the chances for them
to go unavailable are high, as soon as the Pooram season begins.
You can either book pocket-friendly hotel rooms online or opt to stay at luxury resorts such
as Merlin International and Dass Continental in Shakthan Nagar or Joys Palace and Luciya
Palace in Kuruppam road according to your budget.
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