The Thrissur Pooram consisting of processions of fully caparisoned elephants, choicest percussion ensembles like Panchavadyam and Pandimelom, and a colourful display of fireworks has no parallel for comparison. With illuminations, festoons, pandals and welcome arches, the town turns itself into a varitable paradise during the Pooram season.
Origin and growth
Pooram was thought about and choreographed, more than 200 years ago, by the then ruler of Cochin State , Shri. Ramavarma, more popularly known as Sakthan Thampuran (1751-1805), who ruled the state at a period of crisis. He cleared the deep forests surrounding the Vadakkunnathan Temple and made a maidan of it. As a ruler who did a lot to convert Thrissur to a developed city, Sakthan decided to organize a grand annual festival in Thrissur, using the new Temple Maidan as the main venue. Sakthan, who was bent upon putting an end to the excessive Namboodiri domination in the socio-political arena of the state, opted to call the leaders of two temples, Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu, which were under the governance of the temple going public of the locality. He held discussion with them and chalked out plans for the festival.
It was at this point of time, that the responsible persons of eight other temples, who were Namboodiri Ooralars /local chieftains approached the King with a request to save them from the disgrace inflicted on them by the Perumanam chiefs thro’ banning them from participating in the Arattupuzha Pooram which was almost 1200 years then. The king graciously allowed these temples to participate in the Thrissur Pooram, to be celebrated on the Pooram aster in the month of Medam (April 14 – May 15).
The festival was meticulously panned. The Thiruvambady and Pramekkavu would be the live wires of the festival and would compete with one another, for artistic perfection. The other 8 temples would bring their deities to the precincts of Vadakkunnathan Temple, offer obeisance to the presiding deity and then depart. Decorations, firing of pop guns and fireworks could be done only by the two major partners. The other could conduct their processions at the prescribed time schedules, subject to the condition that the number of elephants could not go beyond 14. 15 elephants could be fielded only the majors.
It remains a pleasant surprise that the prescriptions laid down by ‘Sakthan’ in the 18th century are followed even today.
The Divine Durbar
The Divine Durbar, staged at dusk on the Pooram day, on the ramparts of the Southern Gopuram of the Vadakkunnathan Temple is a scene which nobody can emulate any where else in the world.
At around 5.30 p.m the Paramekkavu contingent of 15 elephants align at Round South, facing north towards the Southern Gopuram. The Thiruvambady procession enters the maidan through Southern Gopuram and goes into formation facing the Paramekkavu. With the golden rays of the evening sun bathing the competing arrays, the stage is set for the spectacular changing of parasols.
The competition commences with one side changing in a jiffy the entire set of 15 decorated parasols into a vibrant combination of alluring colours and hues; the challenge is on as the elephants stand stock-still gently flapping their ears, the alavattoms held aloft and the venchamarams swaying up and down enhancing the beauty of the pageantry. The entire crowd cheers and dares the other side to show their wares. This is answered by a similar impressive change from the opposite side and the crowd again goes into raptures. The Durbar progresses this way, transforming from one vibjyoric combination to another, displaying multi-tiered parasols and innovative items, till the show ends after 30 or more changes, in an hour's duration.
Devotees can sponsor any item of elephant accoutrement for Pooram.
Minor Poorams Start at 6 a.m. and end by 2 p.m during day time and start at 7.30 p.m. and end at 2 a.m at night. The deity from each temple is carried on a caparisioned elephant flanked by more caparisoned elephants when it reaches the Pooram arena, moves in jubilant procession to the accompaniment of percussion orchestra to the Vadakkunnathan Temple, pays obesissance to Vadakkunnathan, the presiding deity of the Town, and is returned to the original abode.
Paramekkavu Devi starts at 12 noon from her abode, in 15 elephant-strong procession, reaches Vadakkunnathan Temple, finishes drum concert, emerges out thro’ Southern Gopuram, partake in the Divine Durbar and returns to her abode. Night procesion starts at 11.30 p.m. with 7 elephants and Panchavadyam, reaches Manikantanal by 2.30 a.m. After fireworks between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. , at 8 a.m the ‘Pakal Pooram’ starts with 15 elephants and drum concert from Manikantanal and ends by 12 noon near the Western Gopuram of Vadakkunnathan Temple.
Thiruvambady has the longest duration of festivities for Thrissur Pooram. The Pooram schedule is given explicitly below.
|THRISSUR POORAM SCHEDULE 2017|
|29 - April - 2017||Kodiyettam Flag hoisting.|
|03 - May - 2017||7 pm - 8.30 pm Sample Fire works|
|04 - May - 2017||10 am - 12 Midnight: Exhibition of Elephant Accoutrements at Kausthubham Auditorium.|
|05th & 06th - May - 2017||
7.00 am : ‘Purappadu’: Procession carrying the deity from Thiruvambady temple emerges from the temple - 3 elephants and Drum orchestra - move south ward thro’ Shornur Road, reaches Naickanal at 9.00 am, turning right moves thro’Round West, Pazhaya Nadakkavu Road. Thekke Madhom Road.
10.15 am : Procession ends at Naduvil Madhom
11.30 am : ‘Madathil Varavu’ starts from west end of Pazhayanadakkavu Road - 3 elephants and Panchavadyam.
1.15pm : Enters Swaraj Round The number of elephants increased to 7 moves thro Swaraj Round to reach Naickanal at about 2.45 p.m. When the procession reaches Naduvilal (by 1.30 pm) Amits of colour paper, colour powders, parachutes etc go up from F.W area.
2.30 p.m : Panchavadyam ends at Naickanal. Pandimelom (drum concert) begins. Procession enters the maidan. Number of elephants is increased to 15
4.40 p.m : Pandimelom culminates. The artistes and elephants enter the Vadakkunnathan Temple thro’ West Gopuram: Central elephant circumambulates Lord Vadakkunnathan, others proceed to South Gopuram.
4.40 p.m : The elephants emerge out thro’ the South Gopuram and spreads in 15-strong array facing the Paramekkavu pageant already positioned in the Round South.
5.20 p.m : Divine Durbar - Face to Face - ‘Kudamattom’ (Changing of Parasoles atop the elephants,minute after minute, hue after hue in quick succession).
6.45 p.m : After Kudamattom the Paramekkavu Devi proceeds to her abode.
6.45 p.m : Thiruvambady elephants move southward reaches the Round. 7 elephants move thro’ the M.O. Road, reaches the Raja’s statue. returns, to form the 15 strong array in the Round and then disperse. The idol on single elephant is taken to Madhom.
7.45 p.m : The idol reaches Madhom
7.45 p.m - 8.45pm : ‘Amits’ at F.W. display area.
11.30 p.m - 2.30 a.m : “Madathil Varavu’ with Panchavadyam : Route - Pazhaya Nadakkavu, Round West. Culminates at Naickanal
Fire works display at Thrissur Pooram is unique in the pattern of display and colourfulness. It provides the enthusiasts with a rare feast of sound and colour. The fire works display commences at around 3 a.m. with a bang heralding the lighting of the cracker chains, the serial explosions merging into a continuous rhythmic roar, punctuated with the bursting of shells of different sizes gaining momentum minute by minute, the cracker show ends in a dazzling climax of light and sound. This is followed by an impressive display of multi-coloured and multi-staged amits, golden and silver rains, titanic wheels, fiery blossoms, whistling tablets and several innovative combinations holding spell-bound a million strong crowd occupying vantage points in open places, terraces, balconies etc. The show goes on for 2 hours. The liveliness of display is augmented by the spirit of friendly competition between Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu sides.
A Sample of fireworks is conducted one day prior to Pooram. Recently the sample fireworks has grown in its content and stature and do attract large crowds consisting more of women and children. May be because the timing of 7 pm to 9 pm is more convenient for women and children to move.
Elephant Accoutrements Exhibition
All the decorations for elephants paraded for Pooram by the Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu sides are made fresh and new. These accoutrements are placed for public exhibition on the day prior to Pooram. The exhibition of the accountrements of the Thiruvambady side is conducted at the Kausthubham Auditorium, Shornur Road, leading to Thiruvambady Temple.
From the day of Kodiyettam (hoisting of temple flag), the deity is carried on elephant to various houses near and not too far. The house holders receive the deity in great reverence and offer paddy and other agricultural products in full measures unto the Lord. Full measure is called ‘Para’ and the event is called Parayeduppu. Para offering can be done at the Temple also. On the Pooram day during the morning purappadu at the temple and on both sides of the road thro’ which the procession moves, the devotees, householders and shop keepers receive the deity with lighted lamps and offering paddy etc. in ‘Paras’ and keeping the places clean and decorated.