Poorum festival of Kerala

Thrissur Pooram/en.wikipedia.org/

Ceremonial ‘Ezhunnallathu,The Hindu

 Above image: Ceremonial ‘Ezhunnallathu’ of Neithilakkavilamma on the top of legendary elephant Thechikkottukavu Ramachandra through Thekkegopura Nada marked the beginning of mega spectacle of Thrissur Pooram.

Among the Hindu festivals of Kerala, Thrissur Pooram is as popular as the Oonum festival. This annual festival falls on the day
when the moon rises with the Pooram star in the Malayalam Calendar month of Medam. Of all the Poorums, it is the largest and most famous one in  India.  Lately considered as one of the greatest colorful gathering of people and elephants together in Asia, the main  venue of this festival is  the popular Vadakkunnathan Temple in Thrissur  city.

Vadakkunnathan Temple in Thrissur  city.Kerala Mythology - blogge

Kanimangalam Valiyalukkal Bhagavathi Temple en.wikipedia.org/

4 th May, 2017 Thursday  marked the beginning of Thrissur Pooram  with the ceremonial procession of  ‘Ezhunnallathu’ of Neithilakkavilamma on the top of legendary elephant named Thechikkottukavu Ramachandra through Thekkegopura Nada. It was accompanied by the percussion ensembles by Peruvanam Kuttan Marar in the presence of hundreds of onlookers. Normally, the ‘Ezhunnallathu’ of these procession  deities in the pooram will be accompanied by some of the best percussion ensembles in the State. It is worth noting that the door  of the Thekke Gopura Nada opens only twice a year on two occasions - for Pooram and Sivarathri. This year it was celebrated on a grand style with fanfare and devotion on the 5 May 1917. Last year, on 17 April 2016, pooram festival was held.   This year Lakhs of people made a beeline to  the Thekkinkadu Maidan and the Swaraj Round to enjoy the thrill and glory of the occasion. Families, especially children and girls, had  a nice time during the seven day festival that was held  in grandeur and  style typical of Kerala. It is not only a festival of joy and devotion and is also of  a show of hospitality by the people of Thrissur. Mind you, this festival is held  in the grueling hot summer season - in the early stages of Agni Nakshtra (the Sun breathes fire) when the temperatures sore sky-high. Such hot weather conditions neither dampen their spirit of participation nor their expression of devotion and bakthi. 
Thrissur Pooram The Hindu

It was local ruler  Rama Varma, also  known as Sakthan Thampuran, the Maharajah of Cochin (1790–1805) who  was responsible for reorganizing this  colorful and gala festival.
Arattupuzha Pooram  is  celebrated before the commencement of Thrissur Poorum  in which temples around Thrissur  actively participate. In the past, centuries ago, some participating temples were denied access to poorum procession because of the arrival of procession deities  got delayed due to incessant rain. The temple authorities requested the ruler Sakthan Thampuran to do justice and at his initiative in 1798, the 10 Hindu temples situated around Vadakkunnathan Temple  came together and organized the celebration of Thrissur Pooram as a grand and spectacular  event. The Maharajah  invited temples with their  procession deities (Utchavars)  to Thrissur to pay respect  to Lord Vadakkunnathan (Lord Siva), the presiding deity of the  Temple.

Every year this festival  is attended by people in thousands and the festival is so well-known that the very mention of Kerala conjures up the imagination of a long line of caparisoned elephants standing before Vadukunnathan temple. 

Sakthan Thampuran divided the participating temples into two groups, namely "Paramekkavu side" and "Thiruvambady side". These are headed by the principal participants. The former is headed by the principal participant of Paramekkavu Bagavathi Temple at Thrissur Swaraj Round and  the latter by Thiruvambadi Sri Krishna Temple at Shoranur road. The two temples are close-by.

Thiruvambady side (western group) includes: Thiruvambadi Sri Krishna Temple, Kanimangalam Sastha Temple, Laloor Bhagavathy Temple, Sree Karthyayani Temple at Ayyanthole and Nethilakkavu Baghavathy Temple

Paramekkavu side (eastern group) includes:  Paramekkavu Bagavathi Temple, Chembukkavu Bhagavathy Temple, Panamukkumpally Sastha Temple, Choorakkottukavu Bhagavathy Temple and Pookattikkara - Karamukku Baghavathy Temple.

The temples listed above send their respective procession deity to the main venue  before Vadakkunnathan Temple on the day of poorum every year.  Like countless temples of Tamil Nadu and elsewhere, the major temple events begin with the flag-hoisting ceremony. This pooram  commences with the flag-hoisting on the temple premises by the temple priests. Display of firework is part of this festival and it adds more color and excitement to this great event.  There are four major firework displays in Thrissur Pooram. The 'sample fireworks' Sample Vedikettu - just one hour show on the day before the Pooram, It is organized by  Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu. It starts around  7  PM  at Swaraj Round and the final fireworks will be in the the following noon after the Goddesses bids farewell to each other marking  the end of Pooram.

 Another feature is the participation of various  artists who display their skill in percussion instruments, wind instruments, etc. The pooram commences  at the time of Kanimangalam sasthavu ezhunnellippu in the early morning and  is followed by the ezhunnellippu of other six temples. The display of  panchavadhyam melam (five musical instruments), one of the major events in Thrissur pooram,  assumes much importance.  “Madathil varavu”, a panchavadhyam melam, participating more than 200 artists, and the  musical instruments consist of Thimila, Madhalam, Trumpet, Cymbal and Edakka. One can not miss the major display of melam   called  famous Ilanjithara melam – a type of melam consisting  of drum, trumpets, pipe and cymbal. It takes place inside the  vadakkumnathan temple. 

At the end of the pooram, after the Ilanjithara melam, both Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi groups  come to a common spot after coming out of the  temple through the southern gate and stand face to face in distant places. The two groups, in the presence of melam, exchange colorful and crafted umbrellas in a competitive manner at the top of the elephants – called Kudamattom, a major  attraction of the pooram. Later all Poorams conclude at Nilapaduthara near western goupuram of Vadakkunnathan Temple.

Though poorum is a Hindu festival it has a touch of secular aspect. The various communities act in tandem and make this festival a grand one.  Most of the pandal (shamina) works are done by Muslim community. The materials for the umbrellas for ‘Kudamattom’ are offered by the churches and their members.

colorful umbrellas. The Hindu

The farewell ceremony - Upacharam Cholli Piriyal is held on the 7th day at Swaraj Round. Thiruvambadi Sri Krishna Temple and Paramekkavu Bagavathi Temple. The idols are taken from the Swaraj Round to their respective temples and this  marks the end of the Pooram celebrations. The festival will end with the  display of fireworks known as Pakal Vedikkettu. Both Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu temples compete with each other to provide the crowd with the best entertainment - display of colorful and  distinctive fireworks that light-up and adorn the sky and make the crowd spell-binding.

Thrissur PooramJayson OnlineThiruvambady Chamayam Exhibition

An interesting feature is the perfect coordination among various Devaswoms who do certain duties with meticulous attention. For example, the  participation of caparisoned elephants and the display of  the golden elephant caparison (Nettipattam), elephant accoutrements (Chamayam), ornamental fan made of peacock feathers (Aalavattom), royal fan (Venchamarom), sacred bells and decorative umbrellas, etc. They are  prepared anew by Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu Devawsoms separately. Paramekkavu Devaswom exhibits this at the Agrasala in Thrissur City and the Thiruvambady Devaswom will display the caparisons at the Church Mission Society High School in Thrissur City on fourth and fifth day before the Pooram.


 On account of two competing groups  between Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi temples  and their anxiety to display their best, as in the case of cheru poorams, the participating  elephants are used continuously  in large numbers. For the stressed elephants that are supposed to stand for a pretty long time before an ocean of people and in the midst of din caused by drums, etc., they  occasionally either collapse or sometimes run amok, causing injuries to themselves and to the  onlookers.  The animal activists, in particular, are concerned about the elephants' physical and mental well-being  as well as the threats faced by the common people. However, there is no cruelty is involved and they are trained to participate on festive occasions. 

02. The city's atmosphere is  charged with the spirit of a carnival with percussion  players, decorated elephants, chamayam exhibitions and street vendors everywhere.

03. Pooram showcases  the majesty and intelligence of elephants. In all, 101 elephants are said to participate in the fitness test ahead of the Pooram, on Wednesday and Thursday. The Paramekkavu Devaswom has arranged for 47 elephants, whereas Thiruvambadi has brought 54 elephants.

04. The Chamayam exhibitions of Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi Devaswoms are famous and people in thousnds attend them.

05. Elephant parade is held as per government norms, adhering to all statutory guidelines.  A special squad  is set up to take care of any emergency situation.

 06. The participants are: Peruvanam Kuttan Marar, leader of 'Chenda' group of Paramekkavu temple. Kizhakkoottu Aniyan Marar, leader of 'Chenda' group of Thiruvambady temple and Kanimangalam Valiyalukkal Bhagavathi Temple.

A week before the 2016 Pooram, 114 people were,  unfortunately, killed and more than 350 were injured during the firework display at a Kollam temple. Hence, this festival is held with several restrictions and safety precautions, adhering to the government regulations. 

08. The exciting  Kudamattom that reaches the  crescendo with the display of a myriad parasols  atop the elephants is an interesting one  and is enthusiastically watched  at the Thekke Gopura  Nada  by an ocean of humanity on the Thekkinkadu Maidan.