Pooram: When the Gods meet
Thrissur is best known for its mammoth Pooram Festival, which is the most
colourful and spectacular temple festival of Kerala. The legends and myths
behind each festival of Kerala are many, varied and equally interesting.
Since the word pooram literally means a group or a meeting, it was believed
that every year the dynastic gods and goddesses of neighbouring province met
together for a day of celebration. This usually happened on the pooram
asterism of one of the spring months.
Pooram is the festival of festivals. It is conducted at the great
Vadakkunnatha temple of Trissur. The Vadakkunnatha temple, which resembles a
Japanese Shrine, is built in the ancient Kerala style with sanded courts,
stone sculptures, a traditional auditorium and multi level roofs. In the
evening of Pooram day, two lines of 13 elephants face each other, on the
ground south to the temple. Each Pachyderm bears an umbrella holder, a
peacock fan carrier and a yak-tail fly whisk wielder. Between the two lines
of elephants stand percussion and wind orchestras. As each orchestra reaches
a crescendo, a new display of brilliant ceremonial umbrellas blossoms over
the elephants and the supporting crowd applauds. This continues till sunset
when the elephants depart and late at night, the darkness explodes with a
magnificent fireworks display.
The gods and their entourage arrived for the meeting on colourfully
decorated tuskers. Even today, the converging of these divine processions at
the festival venue is an awe inspiring sight. The pooram draws to a close
with mind-blowing fireworks displays in the evening and in the wee hours of
the next morning. Some of the main Pooram celebrations are at Aratupuzha,
Thrissur, Uthralikavu, Cheeramkulangara, Pariyanampetta, Mannarkad,
Perumanam, Aryankavu, Mangottu, Medamkulangara, Kodikal, Thirumandhamkunnu
Thrissur Pooram is held in the Malayalam month of Medam (April- May).
Devotees and spectators from all parts of the state and even outside, throng
Introduced during the reign of Sakthan Thampuran (1775- 1790), the Raja of
Kochi, Pooram is an assemblage of suburban deities before the presiding
deity at the Siva temple in down town Thrissur. The Pooram celebration is
held at the Thekkinkadu grounds.
Traditionally, two groups representing the main geographic divisions of
Thrissur, Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi, rival to add to the Pooram's
grandeur. Both teams field face to face arrays of richly caparisoned
And then 'Kudamattam', a competition in the swift and rhythmic changing of
brightly coloured and sequinned parasols is conducted. The whole event takes
place in rhythm with the traditional orchestra 'Pandimelam'.