Thrissur Pooram: The Spectacular Elephant Festival of Kerala

thrissur pooram crafted umbrella

Thrissur Pooram is a one-day festival celebrated in the Thrissur city of Kerala, which is often referred to as the cultural capital of the state. It is one of the biggest and most famous temple festivals in South India, which attracts a massive crowd every year. This year (2023), Thrissur Pooram is on May 1 based on the Malayalam calendar.

Thrissur Pooram festival (source)

History of Thrissur Pooram

The word “Pooram” means “meeting” or “gathering” in Malayalam. Thrissur Pooram was first introduced by Sakthan Thampuran, the Maharaja of Cochin state in the late 18th century. He organized this festival as a secular event to promote unity and harmony among different religious communities in the area. The festival was a major success and soon became an annual post-harvest festival in Thrissur.

Legend of Thrissur Pooram

The Arattupuzha Pooram used to be the most significant temple festival in Kerala. The deities of various temples were taken in a procession of decorated elephants to the Arattupuzha temple, where they joined together and traditional drums were played by hundreds of artists.

However, some temples were unable to participate due to heavy rain, and they approached the then King of the Princely State of Cochin, Sakthan Thampuran, to arrange another festival.

Being known for his decisive actions, the king divided ten temples into two groups led by Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi temples and organized a new festival on the premises of Thrissur Vadakkumnatha Temple on the Pooram Star Day of the Malayalam month.

The Festival Day

Thrissur Pooram is celebrated in the Malayalam month of Medam (April-May) every year. The festival starts with the flag hoisting ceremony at the Vadakkunnathan Temple, which is one of the ancient temples in Kerala. The festival is celebrated by two main temples, Thiruvambadi Sri Krishna Temple and Paramekkavu Bagavathi Temple, which are located on either side of the Vadakkunnathan Temple.

Celebration of Thrissur Pooram

The Thrissur Pooram festival in Kerala, India begins with the flag hoisting ceremony, which takes place seven days before the actual event. This ceremony is attended by all the participating temples, and there is a light firework display to announce the start of the festival.

The Poora Vilambharam is another custom where the elephant carrying the idol of ‘Neithilakkavilamma’ pushes open the south entrance gate of the Vadakkumnathan Temple. The festival features a variety of displays, such as caparisons, pyrotechnics, and the main attraction: the Kudamattom, where the two participating groups exchange colorful umbrellas competitively at the top of the elephants.

The festival is secular, and people from different religious communities actively participate in the event. The grand finale of the Thrissur Pooram festival features the main round of fireworks, which is held in the Thekkinkadu Maidan. The festival ends on the seventh day, which is known as “Pakal Pooram” and is a time for hospitality for the people of Thrissur.

Major Attractions of Thrissur Pooram

Thrissur Pooram elephants parade (source)

The central attraction of Thrissur Pooram is the dazzling display of fireworks known as the ‘sample fireworks.’ The fireworks display is conducted by both the respective temples and lasts for several hours. The festival is also known for the Kudamattom ceremony, where devotees display colorful parasols and exchange them between the two temples. The parade of Thiruvambadi Pooram is renowned for the musical performances played on traditional instruments like wind instruments.

Kanimangalam Sastha and Thiruvambadi Kanimangalam

The festival starts with the arrival of Kanimangalam Sastha, who is considered the family deity of the Cochin royal family. The deity is brought to the Vadakkunnathan Temple from the Kanimangalam Sastha Temple, accompanied by traditional percussion music.

Paramekkavu Bhagavathy and Thiruvambadi Sri Krishna Temple

The Paramekkavu Bhagavathy Temple and the Thiruvambadi Sri Krishna Temple are the two main temples that participate in the festival. The temple premises are decorated with lights, and the elephants are adorned with colorful accessories like golden headdresses and peacock feathers.

Decorative Umbrellas and Parasols

Crafted umbrella of Thrissur Pooram (source)

One of the major attractions of Thrissur Pooram is the colorful decorative umbrellas and parasols used in the Kudamattom ceremony. The crafted umbrellas and parasols are designed with intricate patterns and are made using silk, cotton, and paper.

Sample Vedikettu and Fireworks Display

The sample Vedikettu is a prelude to the main fireworks display, which takes place after the Kudamattom ceremony. The fireworks are set off from eight different locations in the temple premises, which includes the south entrance gate, the southern gate, and the western gate.

How to Reach Thrissur Pooram?

The nearest airport to Thrissur is the Cochin International Airport, which is located about 53 km away from the city. The Thrissur railway station is well-connected to major cities in India.

Thrissur Pooram is a renowned festival celebrated in the Thrissur city of Kerala, which is known for its secular nature and cultural significance. This famous festival attracts a massive crowd every year, and the major attractions include the Kudamattom ceremony, sample Vedikettu, and the dazzling display of fireworks.