Thrissur Pooram: A History of Extravaganza

When life is a monotone of dim days with the same old routine draining the energy from our lives, we have bright days right across this tunnel of darkness to look forward to; we have a season of happiness to lighten our spirits. With the pandemic doing the pirouettes around the globe, we find ourselves back in the same position as we had been a year ago, but something that all the Pooram lovers have to look forward to is Thrissur Pooram 2021. Known as the mother of all poorams, this festivity of grandeur celebrates the richness of our culture and is one of the most defining events of the state. Celebrated in the Malayalam month of Medom, Thrissur Pooram 2021 is slated to be celebrated on the 23rd of April, with the rituals and gaiety lasting the whole week.

The Pooram marks the ensemble of Gods and Goddesses in and around Thrissur, making their visit to the Vadakkunnatha Temple with the grounds of the temple filled with men carousing and celebrating to the blissful beats of Panchavadyam and Chendamelam with the elephants adorned with the Nettippattam involved with Kodamattam.

A brief history

The history of the Pooram traces back to 1798, to the rule of Shakthan Thamburan. Approached by the temple authorities who were denied entry to the procession of Arattupuzha Pooram, he resolved to bring together the ten temples around Vadakkunnathan Temple to create a celebration of their own which evolved to become one of the grandest festivals of the state and a must-do item in the bucket list for all visitors.

Events and celebrations

The participants of the pooram are divided into two factions- The Paramekkavu side and the Thiruvambadi side. The festivities of the Pooram begin with the event of Kodiyettam or flag hoisting, followed by Pooram Vilambharam, where the grand elephant pushes open the south entrance gate of the Vadakkunnathan Temple. Vedikkettu or fireworks form an integral part of the show where each side of the Pooram contests among themselves for the richness and variety of their exhibits in the sky, a sample of which happens on the fourth day after the hoisting event.

The main Pooram starts with the entry of Kanimangalam Shastha through the Southern Gopuram, followed by the entry of other deities. The most eye capturing events of the Pooram happens in the Vadakkunatha Temple ground, “Madathil varavu,” a Panchavadhyam Melam, with instruments such as thimila, madhalam, rumpet, cymbal and edakka, and Ilanjithara Melam which is said to be the largest musical percussion event in the world being a feast to the ears.

The competitive spirit of the two participating groups is portrayed artfully in the Kudamattom, where they exchange intricately crafted umbrellas at the top of elephants. The evening is a blizzard of the artery with the fantastic display of fireworks held in the city center Thekkinkadu Maidan.

The main fireworks begin in the early morning of the seventh day, with the Pooram lovers staying up till the first rays of dawn to witness this masterpiece showcase. The seventh day being the last, the revelries come to an end with the Pakal Pooram, and the participants’ bid adieu looking forward to another week after a short trip around the sun.

Reimagining Pooram

Though the pandemic has affected our lives, it has not dampened our spirits of celebration as we look forward to a safe and well-planned Pooram adhering to the protocols released by the authorities. This year’s Pooram opens up possibilities of bonding virtually yet experiencing the extravaganza of the celebrations right at the comfort of our homes.

Let us be part of the revelry but lest we forget to be careful about our loved ones. Let us be responsible and celebrate the occasion with our families but if being part of the festivities, let us take the steps to ensure that we don’t bring back an uninvited guest home. A step of precaution, let the mask be part of the fashion.

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