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Thrissur Pooram

Thrissur Pooram

Thrissur Pooram – Kerala’s festival culture

Thrissur Pooram, often known as the festival of festivals, is a lavish celebration of Kerala's spiritual and cultural core. The festival takes place in the Thekkinadu ground, which is next to the Vaddakumnathan Temple in the town of Thrissur, during the months of April and May. There is a 200-year history of Thrissur Pooram. Ten distinct temples from Paramekkavu, Thiruvambadi Kanimangalam, Karamukku, Laloor, Chelakottukara, Panamukkampally, Ayyanthole, Chembukkavu, and Neythilakavu participated in the event, which was initiated by Shakthan Thampuran, Maharaja of Kochi. These temples take part by showcasing their luxuriously ensconced elephants and playing traditional orchestra music. The Pooram is the name given to this entourage. The Poorams from the 10 temples arrive to kick off the festivities.

The assemble

Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu Bhagavathi, Nethilakkavu Bhagavathi, Karamukku Bhagavathi, Ayyanthole Bhagavathi, Laloor Bhagavathi, Choorakkattukavu Bhagavathi, Chembukkavu Bhagavathi, Panamukkumpally Sastha, and Kanimangalam Sastha are the ten participants in the Pooram. Each of these deities has a very rigorous schedule for their processions and rituals, which are planned to ensure that the 36-hour nonstop Pooram celebrations don't lose any of their vitality.

There are two groups of participating poorams: the "Paramekkavu side" and the "Thiruvambady side." The other members of the Paramekkavu side include Pookattikkara-Karamukku Bhagavathy, Choorakattukara Baghavathy, Chempukkavu Bhagavathy, and Panemukkumpilly Sastha in addition to "Paramekkavu Bhagavathy." In addition to Thiruvambady Bhagavathy, there are four more Bhagavathies on the Thiruvambady side: Ayyanthole, Nethila Kavu, Laoor, and Kanimangalam Sastha.

The flag-hoisting ceremony, which takes place seven days prior to Thrissur Pooram, is when the Pooram officially starts. Light fireworks herald the start of the event, and all of the participating Thrissur Pooram temples are present for the ritual. The Vadakkunnathan Temple, home of the Thrissur Pooram, has a ceremony known as Poora Vilambaram in which an elephant pushes open the south entrance gate with the idol of "Neithilakkavilamma" above it.

Festival procedure

The Vadakkunnathan Temple usually hosts the ceremonial flag hoisting to kick off the festival, which is then followed by a two-day schedule of events. The principal attraction of Pooram, which takes place in the Malayalam month of Medam (April–May), is the magnificent parade of elaborately decorated elephants from the participating temples. The 'Kudamattam,' or procession, is a captivating sight, with colorful umbrellas carried by exquisitely decorated elephants and traditional musical groups.

The competition between two rival groups, the Thiruvambadi and Paramekkavu temples, featuring elaborately decorated elephants, is the centerpiece of the Thrissur Pooram. With mesmerizing drum performances, the groups vie to present the most elaborately decorated elephants. An amazing visual and aural spectacle is produced at the end of the celebrations with the 'Elanjithara Melam,' a stunning fireworks display that is accompanied by rhythmic percussion ensembles.

​Beautiful fireworks in the sky

Three fireworks are featured in the celebration; the first is a sample display by Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu Devaswoms on the fourth day following flag hoisting, and the second is the very innovative Swaraj round of fireworks at 7:15 p.m. Innovations like Vande Bharat and K-Rail, which made a path in the sky that appeared to be moving like a train, were present at the April 2023 Pooram celebration. On the seventh and final day, known as Pakal Pooram, the biggest fireworks display takes place at Thekinkadu Maidan, in the center of Thrissur city. The final display of fireworks is referred to as Pakal Vedikattu.

Historical background

The Thrissur Pooram festival has a rich historical background dating back to the late 18th century. It was initiated by Sakthan Thampuran, the Maharaja of Cochin, in 1798. The main aim behind the establishment of the Pooram was to unify the local Hindu community and to foster a sense of camaraderie among different temples in the region.

Before the Pooram, the Vadakkunnathan Temple in Thrissur used to have its own temple festival. However, Sakthan Thampuran conceptualized the idea of bringing together ten neighboring temples to participate in a collective celebration, thus giving birth to the Thrissur Pooram as we know it today. 

Sakthan Thampuran introduced several reforms to the festival, including the introduction of the iconic elephant procession and the competitive display of fireworks between the participating temples. The Thrissur Pooram festival continues to be celebrated with great pomp and splendor, upholding the legacy and vision of Sakthan Thampuran while also adapting to the changing times and modern influences.

Traditional Music and Dance

"Panchavadyam" is one of the festival's main draws. More than 200 performers, including Thimila, Maddalam, Trumpet, Cymbal, and Edakka, captivate the audience with their skillful performances. Midday is set aside for another event called "Pandemelam," in which musicians proficient in the drums, trumpets, pipes, and cymbals perform.

The festival's highly awaited Elanjithara Melam is regarded as the biggest live percussion ensemble in the world. The 30 magnificently clad elephants that face each other in the middle of the sea of people are the evening's main attraction. The audience erupts in cheers as traditional Kerala "Panchavadyam" music plays while the spectacular "umbrella changing" ceremony of "Kudamattam" gets underway. 

Decorations and Illuminations

An elephant procession adorned with decorations is Thrissur Pooram's most captivating feature. Two rows of thirteen adorned elephants confront each other on the ground south of the temple on the Pooram evening. The finest elephants are chosen for the parade and undergo extensive makeover.

They receive a gorgeous satin robe, painting, and jewelry. Vibrant silk parasols are a key component of their outfit. A yak-tail fly whisk wielder, a peacock fan carrier, and an umbrella holder are bestowed upon each magnificent elephant. It is called 'Aana Chamayal Pradarsanam', the display of elephant adornment gear. Since the organizers take great delight in winning the competition, commissioning the elephants and the parasols is essential and done in complete secrecy.


A crucial component of the celebrations during Thrissur Pooram is the cuisine that is offered. Rice, sambar, avial (vegetable stew), thoran (stir-fried meal), pachadi (coconut-based curry), and other vegetarian foods are served as part of the traditional Kerala cuisine. There are also non-vegetarian options like fish fries and chicken curry. During the occasion, desserts like payasam, a sweet pudding, and laddu, a spherical confection made of flour and sugar, are popular.

Serving the extravagant feast known as the "Kudamattam Sadhya" on the last day of the festival is one of its highlights. More than 20 dishes, including a variety of curries, chutneys, pickles, and desserts, are served at the feast on plantain leaves. All guests, regardless of caste or religion, are welcome to attend the feast, which is typically served in the temple grounds. The community gathers to celebrate and savor the feast, which is prepared by volunteers and enthusiasts.

Interfaith dialogue

The festival has evolved into a forum for interfaith understanding and social harmony despite its Hindu roots and its central focus of celebrations at the Vadakkunnathan Temple. Many people and organizations use the joyous occasion to spread messages of harmony, tolerance, and peace between many faith communities. 

They plan events that emphasize the value of respect and collaboration between individuals of different faiths, such as talks, seminars, and cultural programs. The Muslim community typically sets up the pandals for this celebration, while churches and their members provide the materials for the umbrellas used for the kudamattom.


The celebration has changed significantly over the years, adding new customs and discarding outmoded ones. The festival's initial intent to promote fraternity and harmony hasn't altered, though. Thrissur Pooram, one of Kerala's most popular festivals, now attracts thousands of visitors from around the globe. It now celebrates Kerala's traditions and values while serving as a symbol of the state's rich cultural past.

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