Thrissur pooram is the most important temple festival in Kerala. Often described as the mother of all poorams, it is an extra ordinary spectacle that will blow your mind.
There are thousands of temple festivals in Kerala. Thrissur pooram takes the top spot for overall excellence.
If you just look at just one aspect, some other festivals may be doing it better. For example, Nenmara Vallangi Vela is remarkable for its fireworks and Arattupuzha pooram has greater number of elephants and so on. However, Thrissur is the pooram of all poorams, achieved by grandeur, intensity and spirit of competition.
Similar to other Hindu religious occasions in Kerala, Thrissur pooram is also decided as per Malayalam calendar. It is held in the month of Medam.
The festival is usually in the second half of April or early May, decided as per the star sign of pooram. Mind you, that is a very hot time in Kerala. So pack your sunscreens. However, the build up of excitement is so much that you may not give a damn about intense sun rays in the middle of this grand feast for mind.
Pooram preparation begins several months before. First to arrive is the Pooram exhibition. Stalls and rides set up at the pooram ground attract large crowds, mostly families. It runs for a month and ends just before the pooram. With Pooram fair in full swing, festival mood hits the town.
Anachamaya pradarshanam is another exhibition. All elephant ornaments are displayed for the public, two days prior to the festival.
All the 50 or more elephants participating in the pooram wear golden head dresses (nettippattam) and other decorative pieces.
Participated by ten temples and attended by more than two million ecstatic spectators, pooram festival is held in the centre of Thrissur town, right next to Vadakkunnathan temple.
Vadakkunnathan or the lord from the north is Lord Siva. The city of Thrissur is built around this Siva temple.
Celebrations have a wider sweep since the ten temples too have own poorams, all arriving to Thrissur to merge as a mega festival.
Thrissur pooram is a holy occasion when deities from regional temples arrive to pay homage to Lord Siva. Caste and creed no bar, this is the festival of every one.
The city, blocked off from all traffic gets jam packed with people, during the marathon 36 final hours of the festival.
The ten participating temples belong to two groups. The two famous temples, Paramekkavu and Thiruvambady lead the groups. Intense competition between these groups bring the best out of the fireworks, the parasol exchange etc.
One of the highlights of the festival is Ilanjithara Melam, the grand traditional orchestra. About 250 instrumentalists, including 100 drummers in sync, create the intense and electrifying beats. Ilanjithara Melam runs for a few hours from 2.30 PM on pooram day.
That is neither the end of music nor the only music. Thrissur Pooram festival, from start to finish is electrified by rhythmic beats of traditional percussion ensembles such as Panchavadyam, Chendamelam, Chempadamelam, Pancharimelam and Pandimelam.
Another must watch part of the festival is Kudamattam, the parasol exchange. Caparisoned elephants line up as two teams, on either side of the large ground. There are 15 elephants on each side. People sitting on top of elephants display colourful umbrellas. During parasol exchange, each team try to best the other by displaying umbrellas of impressive colours and designs.
People stay back to watch the fireworks happening at 3 A.M. Fireworks are spectacular, since the two teams severely compete to outdo the other.
Thrissur pooram festival has a history of over 200 years. The king Shakthan Thampuran, broke away from Arattupuzha festival and started Thrissur pooram.
If you want to see Thrissur pooram festival, try for accommodations at Swaraj round. Try in advance because hotels and lodges get booked out early. Ask you agent if they can organise a room from where you can watch the elephant line ups and the major events. The fireworks can be watched even from a distance.