Want to be part of one of the most spectacular and colorful festivals of India? The countdown has already begun… with just 20 more days to go for this visual splendor!  And God’s own country is busy getting ready for what is its biggest festival. Question is ‘Are you ready to be part of this magnificence?’ Start planning today and be part of what can only be described as magical!

A festival that is nearly 200 years old and called the ‘pooram of all poorams’ (festival), Thrissur Pooram is celebrated every year in the month of Medam (mid-April to mid-May) as per the Mayalam calendar with Thrissur playing host for an unbelievable 36 hours! A dramatic parade of richly decorated elephants, this unbelievable treat is best described as a feast for the five senses, celebrated in the traditional Indian way.

Unlike the other temple festivals, this one welcomes people of all religions and castes. On the pooram day, fifty or more magnificently decorated elephants in their nettipattam (decorative golden headdress), beautifuliy crafted kolam, decorative bells and ornaments etc. pass through the very center of Thrissur town, the Vadakkunnathan temple. Adding to the gaiety is the rhythmic beating of the drum and the panchavadyam (literally meaning an orchestra of five instruments, a temple art form evolved in Kerala). The four instruments, the timila, maddalam, ilathalam an idakka belonging to the percussion category, while the fifth one, the kombu is a wind instrument that create a spontaneous symphony. And ending this exquisite display is the fireworks in the early hours of the next day!

A festival like none elsewhere it was first orchestrated in 1798, by the then ruler of Cochin, Sakthan Thampuran or Raja Rama Varma, a king known for his firm and decisive administration who decided to break tradition and create a venue for the temples belonging to his region to celebrate their pooram festival. Before the advent of Thrissur Pooram, the largest temple festival during summer was the one day festival held at Arattupuzha, 12 km south of the city and known as Thrissur Thaluk. Though temples in and around Thrissur were regular participants of this religious exercise, they were denied entry by the chief of Peruvanam Gramam because of the delay caused by them. This led to the Thrissur Naduvazhi (landlord), the chief poojari of Vadakkunnathan, known as Yogadiripad and the Kuttanellur Naduvazhi starting the pooram in Thrissur. While it was started as an act of reprisal, it quickly lost its charm, after infighting between the two main Naduvazhis.

Thus Sakthan Thampuran intervened and unified the 10 temples situated around Vadakkunnathan temple to organize a mass festival, the celebration called Thrissur Pooram. Two groups were formed the Western group and Eastern group. While the western group was called Thiruvambady and consisted of Kanimangalam, Laloor, Ayyanthole, Nethilakkavu and the Thiruvambady temple, the eastern group was called Paramekkavu and consisted the Paramekkavu temple, Karamukku, Chembukavu, Choorakottukavu and Panamukkamppilly. The pooram was to be centered on the Vadakkunnathan temple, with all these temples sending their poorams (the whole procession), to pay obeisance to the Shiva, the presiding deity. The Thampuran is believed to have chalked out the program and the main events of the Thrissur pooram festival.

It is this historical background that determines the course of the pooram program and it is specifically the ruler’s antipathy to the Brahmin aristocracy to open Thrissur pooram for the common man.

Celebrated at the center of the city, processions of richly decorated elephants accompanied by percussion ensembles from various neighboring temples culminate at the Vadakumnathan temple, with Vadakumnathan temple being a mere spectator at this festival, lending its premises and grounds for the great event.

The Pooram Festival is celebrated by two rival groups representing the two divisions of ThrissuParamekkavu and Thiruvambadi vying with each other in making the display of fireworks grander and more colorful with fireworks starting in the early hours and the dazzling display lasting three to four hours. Each group is allowed to display a maximum of fifteen elephants and all efforts are made by each party to secure the best elephants in South India and the most artistic and colourful parasols, which are raised on the elephants during the display.

Among the varieties of festivals celebrated in Kerala, Thrissur Pooram is the most glamorous,   spectacular and dazzling festival of all. Be it the magnificent beasts in all their finery or the dazzling fireworks or the magical effect of the Panchavadyam, a fascinating combination of colour, sound and pageantry, it has an appeal for one and all.