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Thrissur Pooram: The Mother Of All Temple Festivals In God's Own Country

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Updated: Thursday, May 4, 2017, 16:06 [IST]
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The clock has started ticking for the start of the most celebrated festival of Kerala. Known as the Pooram of Poorams, Thrissur Pooram is world famous for its pageantry, colours, vibrancy, splendour, elephants and the mass participation. The pooram is one amongst the largest temple festivals in India and is well-known for the parade of 30 elephants.

The Pomp & Grandeur Of Thrissur Pooram

PC: Vinod Kannery

The 36-hour nonstop festival is celebrated every year in the month of Medam (mid April to mid May) as per the Malayalam calendar and is held at the Thekkinkadu Maidanam, which surrounds the famous temple of Vadakkumnathan, that also marks the epicentre of the town of Thrissur.

Story Behind The Origin Of Thrissur Pooram

It might be the biggest temple festival in Kerala, but not the oldest. The festival was first conducted in the year 1798, by Sakthan Thampuran. There is an interesting story behind the formation of this marvelous spectacle. The only major festival that was celebrated in the state before Thrissur pooram, was the festival held at Arattupuzha Dharma Sastha Temple, which is around 10 km South of Thrissur.

The Pomp & Grandeur Of Thrissur Pooram

PC: Manojk

Most of the temples from Thrissur took part in this festival until one day due to the heavy rain, many of them couldn't make it on time. They weren't allowed into the temple premises as they were late. After facing a huge embarrassment, the temple officials brought this to the notice of Raja Rama Varma, who was fondly called as Sakthan Thampuran.

Sakthan Thampuran immediately planned for another festival which was more extravagant and more rewarding than the former to make up for it, and this marked the beginning of glorious Thrissur Pooram.

Thrissur Pooram - Pooram Of Poorams

The Pooram is a seven-day festival which marks its beginning with a flag hoisting ceremony at the participating temples. Sakthan Thampuran divided the group of participating temples into two, the eastern side and the western side.

The Pomp & Grandeur Of Thrissur Pooram

PC: shankar s.

The western group is led by Thiruvambadi Bhagavathi temple and followed by Kanimangalam Sastha, Laloor Bhagavathi, Ayyanthole Bhagavathi and Nethilakkavu Bhagavathi temples.

The eastern group is led by Paramekkavu Bhagavathi along with Chembukkavu Bhagavathi, Panakkumpally Sastha, Choorakkottukavu Bhagavathi and Karamukka Bhagavathi.

The pooram is hosted on the grounds of Vadakumnathan temple and all the participating temples send their processions to pay their respects to Lord Shiva who is the presiding deity.

The Main Pooram...

The main pooram starts when Kanimangalam Sastha comes to Vadakumnathan temple and makes his exit through one of the four gopurams. This is soon followed by the other deities.

Once the minor temple deities leave, the two major temples of Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi arrive and arrange themselves facing each other with the temple of Vadakumnathan in the background.

The Pomp & Grandeur Of Thrissur Pooram

PC: Rameshng

An interesting factor is that though the entire pooram is held at the temple of Vadakumnathan, the deity does not participate in any of the festivities, he is a mere spectator of the entire spectacle.

Once the deities leave, the main event is given a kick-start with a four-hour percussion performance known as the Illanjithara Melam, which is later followed by the Kudamattom or the changing of colourful umbrellas, and the grand fireworks display.

The expectations on the festival keep increasing every year. Before the pooram begins, a preview of the fireworks is displayed, which is known as the sample 'vedikettu' or sample fireworks.

The Pomp & Grandeur Of Thrissur Pooram

PC: Manojk

Next is the Chamaya Pradarshanam which is the exhibition of the decorations, ornament and parasols in various shapes and designs which are meant for the elephants.

All said and done, nothing would match the magnificence of the parade of the elephants with more than 50 of them passing through the Vadakkumnathan temple.

The Pomp & Grandeur Of Thrissur Pooram

PC: haridas pangayil

The sight of the elephants decked up with 'nettipattoms' (forehead gear) and other ornaments along with men holding the multi-coloured 'muthukudas' (umbrellas) is a sight that cannot be expressed in words.

The most majestic and the tallest of the elephants are selected for the parade and carry the deities. Well, if there were an Oscar award for the elephants, then it would be for their participation in Thrissur Pooram.

The Pomp & Grandeur Of Thrissur Pooram

PC: Malcolm Murdoch

A festival which is dripping in its traditional richness and festivities, Thrissur Pooram, should definitely be one on every person's bucket list. The festival is underway right now. If you can make it, then why wait? Head straight to the Poora Nagari.

Read more about: travel, india, festivals, thrissur, kerala
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