Thrissur Pooram is a temple festival held amidst much pomp and splendor in Kerala. This festival is held on the day when the Pooram star along with the moon rises in the month of Medam, the traditional Malayali month; and according to the Gregorian calendar it will be the month of April when this festival is celebrated.
This festival is celebrated at the Vadakkuannathan Temple situated on the thekkinkadu maidhanam in Thrissur and since this is the largest Pooram, it is known as the Thrissur Pooram. The festivities date back to almost 200 years.
- History behind the festivities of Thrissur Pooram
This huge magnificent pooram was started by Raja Rama Varma or the Sakthan Thampuran or the Maharaja of Cochin. In 1798, he congregated all the ten temples and organized the now famous Thrissur Pooram. Prior to this the one day pooram festival was held at the Arattupuzha Pooram. All the temples in and around Thrissur were participants of this, then unfortunately because of heavy rain, the temples were unable to reach Arattupuzha on time, and were subsequently denied entry and participation in the Pooram festival. Angered and saddened, these people then went to the Sakthan Thampuran to recount their saga.
Giving a lot of thought to the predicament, in 1798, Sakthan Thampuran united 10 temples, situated in and around the Vadakkuannathan Temple in a bid to organize a mass pooram. He made an invitation to all the temples to come with their residing deities to pay homage to Lord Vadakkuannathan. He divided the temples into two groups – that of, “Paramekkavu side” and “Thiruvambady side”. Other than Paramekkavu Bagavathy; the Paramekkavu side had the following – Pookattikkara-Karamukku Baghavathy, Choorakattukara Baghavathy, Chempukkavu Baghavathy, and Panemukkumpilly Sastha.
The Thiruvambady side too apart from having the Thiruvambady Baghavathy had the following – Ayyanthole Baghavathy, Nethilakkavu Baghavathy, Laloor bagavathy, Kanimangalam Sastha.
It was decided that the Vadakkuannathan Temple will be at the center of all the Poorams. All the temples will be sending their deities to pay homage to the great Lord Shiva, who was the presiding deity of Vadakkuannathan Temple. It was the Thampuran who had chalked out the Thrissur Pooram in great details.
- The Flag Hoisting Ceremony
The ceremonial flag hoisting marks the beginning of the festivities. This is known as the Kodiyettam. The flags are also hoisted at the Naduvilal and Naikkanal in Thrissur City.
- Magnificent display of Fireworks
Sample Vedikettu or the grand display of fireworks happens on the fourth day of the Pooram. The one hour show is organized and presented by the Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu Devawsoms.
- Display of grand Caparisons
The magnificent and elaborately worked on caparisons are displayed at the Agrasala in the city if Thrissur. Chamayam or the elephant accoutrements, Aalavattom or the peacock feather ornamental fans, Nettipattam or the golden elephant caparison, ornate umbrellas are prepared separately by the Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu Devawsoms. This is known as the “Ana chamaya pradharshanam”.
- The Main Pooram
The main pooram kick starts at the auspicious early morning time of Kanimangalam sasthavu ezhunnellippu and is followed by the ezhunnellippu and six other temples. One resounding success of this pooram is the Madathil varavu, which is a panchavadhyam melam, which on an average consists of 200 artistes, all playing different musical instruments such as – Thimila, Madhalam, Trumpet, Cymbal and Edakka. Sharp at 2 o clock the Vadakkuannathan Temple initiates their much talked about and famous Ilanjithara melam. This too consists of musical instruments like the drum, trumpets, pipe and cymbal.
The Main Pooram has a fleet of more than 50 elephants, which are decorated with intricate Nettipattam, beautifully crafted kolams, bells and other craft items, which makes the elephants look magnificent. The amazing venchamaram and alavattam increases the magnificence of the elephants. As the Pooram ends, Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi group enters the temple through the western gates. The two groups’ then exchange beautifully crafted and colorfully designed umbrellas called Kudamattom at the top of the elephants. The poorams conclude at the Nilapaduthara of the Vadakkunnathan Temple.
The final display of fireworks is a scintillating and beautiful sight. The Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu temples compete with each other to bring to the audience an amazing show of pyrotechnics. This spectacular fireworks display starts at 4.30 in the morning and is an hour’s show. People from far and wide come to watch this sterling display of fireworks. The fireworks display is on at least 4 times during the Pooram in totality – the first day before the Pooram, the colorful display during the Pooram, the early morning show and finally when the Goddesses bid adieu to each other and bring the curtain down on the Pooram.
The last day of the ceremony is known as the Pakal Pooram. The Upacharam Cholli Piriyal or the fare well ceremony is a time for hospitality for Thrissur. Thiruvambadi Sri Krishna Temple and Paramekkavu Bagavathi Temple idols are taken back to their respective temples marking an end to the gaiety and festivity. The festival ends with another round of magnificent fireworks display known as the Pakal Vedikkettu.
The success of this Pooram is that it is not limited to the participation of Hindus only. Rather it is a colorful festival where people from all religions come forward to participate, thus making it an event of communal harmony.