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Pooram: A Guide to India’s Greatest Elephant Festival

pooram-1The Indian state Kerala is widely known as a favorite tourist destination as it acts as a cultural hub in the entire Indian region. Its rich traditions are evident from the Pooram festivals held annually.

  • What is Pooram?

Well, Pooram refers to the day of Medam-month when the moon rises over the star. It is interesting to note that all people celebrate the festival regardless of their religion -Muslim, Hindu and Christians.

  • Thrissur Pooram

The latter refers to Temples’ festivals that are held annually. Regardless of the religion or festival, elephant’s parades, drum orchestra, rituals and fireworks forms the part and parcel of the celebrations. Thrissur Pooram has not only made Kerala famous but even its environs, it is a rare chance where one can see the decorated elephants take part in a dance progression-the elephants are decorated with gold ornaments and beautifully crafted umbrellas!

  • History of Thrissur Pooram

The festivals celebrate Thrissur Pooram, who was the brain child of Rajazma Varma. Before the start of Thrissur Pooram, the residents held Arattupuzha Pooram which was a one day festival. However, on one occasion, there was incessant rain which caused some delays in attending the ceremony. Those who were late for the celebration were denied access to the procession; this prompted the temples to go to Sakthan Thampuras.

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Later on, the ten temples around Vadakkunnathan temple united and came up with one Thrissur Pooram as a mass festival. The festival was in introduced 200 years ago and brings together different religions-Christian, Hindu and Muslims.

  • Participants

The participants of this great festival comprises of temples from the eastern and western region of Kerala. Some of the western participants include;

o Luloor Bhagavathy temple

o Kanimangalam Sastha temple

o Thiruvambadi Sri Krishna Temple

o Sree Karthyayani temple

On the other hand, the eastern participants include the following temples;

o Paramekkavu Bhagavathy temple

o Panamukkampally Sastha temple

o Chembukkavu Bhagavathy temple.

  • How the ceremony takes place

The flag hoisting starts seven day before the main festival commences. The hosting of the flag is done by various temple leaders in the surrounding temples. The hoisting is also done in Naduvillar and Naikkkanal center in Thrissur city. During this stage only the hosting is done and moving around the temples is done-the rest is scheduled for the proceeding days.

  • Firework displays

This is argued to be the most colorful part of the entire festival. The first round is known as Sample Vedikettu and happens four days after Kodiyettam- hosting of the flag. It is an hour show performed by the Thiruvambadi, Devawsoms and Paramekkavu. The venue of the performance is Swaraj Round and starts at 7:15 pm in the evening. It is a colorful show with various types and colors of fireworks being displayed. This is followed by a dance as the procession moves around the nearby temples.

  • Caparisons

Many tourist flock in Kerala to witness this part of the festival, Nettipapattam is the interesting bit of this stage. The golden elephants, peacock feathers, sacred bells and the decorative umbrellas mark this ceremony. The elephants are displayed on the fourth and the fifth day at the church mission society high school.

The Pooram comprises of a collection of elephants, the elephants are decorated with golden head dresses, umbrellas and Alavattam. When the Pooram ends-after Ilanjathara melam, all groups enters the temple through the western gate and exist through the southern gate of the temple.

  • Ending of the Pooram festival

The two groups are entirely Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi temples leaders. Through the presence of Melam, the two groups exchange the beautifully crafted umbrellas as they ride on the elephants. The festival is concluded by a spectacular fireworks show, the show is held the next early morning after the end of the Pooram festivals. The two temples (Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi) crack the fireworks as the spectators go in ruptures.

  • Benefits of Thrissur festivals

The festival acts as a learning experience for both the tourists and the locals. Let start with the common benefits, the state is able to earn a lot of revenue through both the domestic and foreign tourists. Away from tourism, take an example of the Kudamatom-the crafted umbrellas. They are crafted by the Muslims while the materials used to make them are actually offered by the Christians!

Unlike other festivals such h as Kubha Mela of Uttar Pradesh, the Pooram try to uphold the communal harmony and all people irrespective of their religion give a hand in it

  • Controversies surrounding the elephant festivals

The fire work ceremonies have had their problems too. They have been complaints by environment activist about the chemicals used. However, if you wish to tour the festival that ought not to freak you out, the festivals are closely monitored by legal guidelines. Another controversy revolves around the use of the elephants. In some instances the elephants stands for too long and collapse. This have raised a lot of complains from the animal activists.

  • Getting around Kerala

Regardless of your area of residence, there exist a thousand ways of getting into Kerala, India. To start us off is a sea cruise; a lot of regions in India are lapped by rich coastlines. In addition to that one can use the railway transport system. The Thrissur railway station is only 8kms from where the festivals are held. Lastly, the Cochin airport is only 58 kilometers from the city; from the airport one can take a taxi.

On part of accommodation, many hotels have mushroomed up within the area. The tour companies also offer accommodation services. Generally, this is a one week tour if you intend to take part in the whole festival. However, it is wise to arrive some days earlier so as to get the right accommodation deal!

pooram-3If you are planning to go for a Pooram festival in Kerala, the Indian visa has come as a blessing to individual who wish to attend the Pooram festivals. One can now access an online visa at the comfort of their bed. The good thing about the new visa platform is that it saves you the hustle and expenses of visiting the Indian embassies or spending countless hours at the border. Well, it also worth to note that many of Indian international airports such as Delhi have frequent international flights to Europe and Africa

If you are thinking of having a lifetime experience, then India is the place to be —from its traditions- ruins, rich vegetation and marine life, you will definitely enjoy your vocation!

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