WHAT: Thrissur Pooram Festival 2015
WHERE: Thrissur – Kerala – India
WHEN: 29th April 2015
The Thrissur Pooram festival started in 1798 by Raja Rama Varma after his temple went along to take part in the Arattupuzha Pooram but due to extreme flooding en-route, the procession was late arriving and admittance was refused. So incensed by their treatment, he set about creating a new mass festival in Thrissur and the rest they say is history.
With visitors numbering at around 100,000 from across India and indeed around the World, make no mistake, it is a full on festival and is generally considered to be one of the greatest Asian gatherings in the whole of the Country.
The ‘Pooram’ or gathering begins 7-days before the main event with a ceremonial flag unfurling at each of the temples taking part. Four days later, the first of the firework shows takes place at 7:15pm.
The following day, visitors can see the ‘Display of Caparisons’ – the ornamental head gear for the elephants, the fans made from huge peacock feathers, sacred bells and highly decorated umbrellas for each of the ten participating temples – the 2015 display will be held at the Church Mission Society High School in Thrissur on the 4th and 5th day.
Fifteen of the biggest and best of the elephants in the area are selected to carry the goddesses into the town. They only select the elephants with the best temperament: they are all male with long trunks and short tails and they are generally between 25 and 55 years old and stand 10-12 feet tall. The elephants have to stand in heat and around noise for long periods of time and there have sadly been occasions where it has all proved a little too much and the elephant went on the rampage but this is rare. Some of the older elephants have been taking part in the event for over 40 years showing strong resolve and never a hint of distress.
The main ‘Pooram’ starts early on day 6 when all the temples parade into Thrissur town centre and enter and leave via opposing exits playing the traditional ‘Panchavadyam’ which literally translates as 5 instruments. They consist of 4 percussion and 1 wind instruments including the Timilia, Maddalam, Ilathalam, Idakka (drums) and the Kombu (horn). It is hot, loud and colourful with the constant beat of drums and the sound of the horns in an all out battle to show how good their temple is.
In the midst of all the noise of the Panchavadyam, those atop the elephants are changing the parasols and displays in unison with the others, showing all the crowds the amount of work which went into the event and of course, alerting the gods to their praise.
Very late evening they have fireworks which are used regularly across India and these go on into the early hours of the morning with no let up in the beating of the drum added to the cadence of the fireworks lighting up the night skies over Kerala.
A magnificent sight for this grand assembly of gods and goddesses and representatives of visiting temples can travel from up to 10 kilometres away bringing families together from across the region.