Fairs and Festivals

Thrissur Pooram - Pooram of Poorams

Introduction: The thirty-six-hour event is the mother of all festivals [Pooram of Poorams]. At a time when nobody would dared to outspoken against Namboodiri [higher caste], Prince Rama Varma [1751-1805] also known as Sakthan Thampuran ruined them from their power and took over temple administration and it is an end of a an caste supremacy era…..

Kerala also know as God's own country for its natural beauty was for centuries known on land of festivals and feasts. Thrissur, the cultural hub of Kerala where paroom is celebrated in the malayalam month of medam [April/May]. The two -century old festivals involve hundreds of decorative elephants lined-up with enthralling performers of chenda-melam [music loved by god], which witnesses thousands of people from various walks of life. The thirty-six-hour event is the mother of all poorams [feast], which is heart throbbing and starts from 6.am and ends up at 12 noon next day.


The word pooram literally names a group or a meeting. It is believed that on the Malayalam month of medam that god and goddess of neighboring province meets and enjoy the celebration every year.

Historical background

It is also remember as festival of liberation and freedom. Prince Rama Varma [1751-1805] also known as Sakthan Thampuran, then the architect of Thrissur puts an end to Namboodiri supremacy [Higher caste]. Once upon the largest temple festival in central kerala was a one-day festival at Aarattupuzha, 12 Km south of town. Temples in and around Thrissur were regularly participated in the religious feast, until the religious exercises were denied entry by chief of Peravanam area of Cherup, a place known for its higher caste supremacy. To put an end to Namboodiri supremacy and liberate people from wounded feelings, Prince Rama Varma- then ruler of the Cochin state- invited these temples to bring their deities to Thrissur and pay obeisance to Lord Vadakunnathan, the deity of Vadakunnathan temple. Further, he directed the two main temples of Thrissur- Thiruvambadi and Paramekkavu to extend all helps and support to these temples. From that day onwards pooram witness people from all religions and caste.

Religious Background

Thrissur pooram, the pooram of all poorams [mother of all feasts], falls in April- May every year. It is people's festival in all respects, in which people gathered without caste, colour, creed and religion. The Sakthan Thampuran, then the architect of Thrissur, has a special place in the hearts of people, who renovated the Vadakunnathan temple complex, which was enclosed by high walls. At a time when nobody would dare to outspoken against Namboodiris, he ruined them from their power and took over administration of temple and it is an end of a caste supremacy era. According to the medieval Peruvanam tradition, the festival is confined to the temple of Devi [goddess] and Sastha [divine combination of Siva and Vishnu]. Ten neighboring temple deities pay obeisance to the presiding of deity of Thrissur, Lord shiva, at the Sree Vadakkunnathan temple. The main venue of festival is Thekkinkadi maidan, center of Thrissur town. The pooram began with ezhunellippu of the Kanimangalam Shastha in the morning. It is followed by ezhunellippu from six other minor temples. A major event of the pooram festival is the panchavadyam in which about 200 thimila, maddalam, trumpet, cymbal and edakka artist participate. The Aana chamaya[ paraphernalic of elephants] pradarsanam[exhibitions] in which hundred of elephants participated with spectacular show of Kudamattam in which number of coloured designed umbrella were exchanged by the people on top of the elephants . The festival concludes with a spectacular fire-works, which is biggest firework in India, the wee hours of the day after pooram.

Tourism paradise: Thirssur the cultural hub is a tourism paradise during the month of April-May. Thousands of domestic and international tourists visit Thrissur and enjoys panchavadyam, Aana chamayam, pradarsanam, ezhunellippu, thimila , maddalam and biggest firework in India during the wee hours of the day.

A noteworthy feature of the pooram festival is the participation of a cross section of people and elephants. The pachyderms emerge out in all their regalia with newly fabricated caparisons. They make their way through the milling crowds drawn from all religions, castes and creed to the accompaniment of ecstatic percussion ensembles. The exhibition of the paraphernalia of elephant decorative, commonly known as ‘Aana Chamayal pradarsanam’, the spectacular show of ‘Kudamattom’ in which parasols of myriad numbers, designs and colours are exchanged by the people atop the elephants.

The Pooram festival is concluded with a spectacular fire works display, which is held in the wee hours of the day after the Pooram. The Thiruvambadi and Paramekkavu Devaswams present many innovative patterns and varieties of fire works which make spectators going into raptures. This famous and mighty display of the magnificent display of fireworks add to the popularity of the Pooram festival.

The most striking feature of the Trichur Pooram is its very secular nature. The Muslim and Christian Communities actively take part in it and they play a very prominent role in the very conduct of the festival. Most of the pandals are the craft work of the experts from the Muslim community. For the two days of the festival, the CMS High School owned by the North Kerala Diocese of CST Church and located on the western part of the Swaraj Round, becomes virtually the Headquarters of the Thiruvampadi Devaswam. The temple elephants are tied in the school compound. The ‘Aana Chamaya pradarsanam’ is also held here. The parasols for the ‘Kudamattom’ are offered by the churches and their members. At a time when the secular fabric of the Indian Society is slowly disintegrating, one can not be myopic to the relevance of Trichur Pooram, the conduct of which should become worthy of emulation to other festivals in the country.

Thrissur Pooram - The festival of all festivals

The much popular and revered festival known as Thrissur Pooram is one of the most sought after festivals of Kerala and is unmistakably the most colourful one too. Vibrant customary rituals are very much part of this much popular festival. The setting of caparisoned elephants, enthralling performance by `melam' artists and magnificent fire works add to the brilliance of Thrissur Pooram.

Every year, several thousands of devotees throng the city of Thrissur to witness this much famed festival. They turn the entire festival ground and surrounding places in to a riot of colours thereby making Pooram a memorable experience for one and all.

All lit up for the Pooram

Believed to have been started in the late eighteenth century by Shakthan Thampuran, the Maharaja of the erstwhile Kochi state, the biggest of Pooram festival of the state is more than two centuries old. Celebrated in the Malayalam month of Medom (April-May) this celebrated festival consists of processions of richly caparisoned elephants from various neighbouring temples to the Vadakumnathan temple at Thrissur.

Every year, the two wings namely Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi who form the two integral segments of the coveted Thrissur Pooram gears up months in advance to showcase best of their talents and each year both the sects surface with a number of surprises with a view to add more glitter to the festival. Both the wings exhibit their Pooram costumes in a run up to the coveted festival which in itself turns out to be mega show leaving everyone spellbound with its colourful and impressive elements.

The much popular episodes of the Pooram namely the `Madathil Varavu', `Elanjithara-Melam', `Thekkottirakkam' and `Kudamattom' are always held with much vigor and vitality. Each group is allowed to display a maximum of fifteen elephants and all efforts are always made by each group to rope in the best elephants around to their respective side.

Bizarre streams of fireworks display, however, is said to be the hallmark of Thrissur Pooram. Both Thiruvambadi and Paramekkavu wings always put up an exemplary show thereby captivating several thousands of people who get congregated at the venue to witness the biggest show of its kind in the state. The fireworks display captivates the onlookers for several hours at a stretch. The show commences in the early hours of the morning and the celebrations last till the break of dawn, the next day.Both the Thiruvambadi and Paramekkavu Devaswams present several innovative patterns and varieties of fire works every year.

`Kudamattom' is yet another colourful aspect of Thrissur Pooram which involves a show of umbrellas, dazzling in colour and dynamic in looks. For both the Paramekkavu and Thiruvamabadi wings, umbrellas form an integral part of displaying their might. The parasols are used in the `Kudamattom' of the Thrissur Pooram and are exchanged by the people atop the elephants. Every year various models of parasols are introduced by both Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi wings. The umbrellas are changed in rapid succession atop the caparisoned elephants. As part of the celebrations, an exhibition of various Pooram paraphernalia is held which exhibits the ornate elephant gear commonly known as 'Aana Chamayam' and the parasols with myriad designs and colours.

The most striking feature of the Thrissur Pooram is its very secular nature. Both the Muslim and Christian communities actively participate in the festival and they also play a very dominant role in the very conduct of the festival. To be attended by several lakhs of people from across the state, this year too the festival is impregnated with all the elements of a great festival.

All India Exhibition , Trichur

In connection with the Pooram Festival in the Vadakkmunathan Temple , Trichur , an All India Exhibition is constructed every year during the Pooram days (April – May ) under the combined auspices of the Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu Devasom at Thekkinkad Maidan . Various official and non-official agencies participated in the Exihibition which lasts for one month .

Bharani festival in Kodungallur Bhagavathy Temple

Kodungallur ,the ancient capital of Kerala , had been a known maritime port of India .The Bhagawati temple at Kodungallur is of great renown throughout the state of Kerala. Kodungallur situated on the west coast, was once a great port of the Chera rulers of Tamilnadu, It was known by the Greek as the musris.

The Bharani festival at the Kodungallur Bhagawati temple is one of the grandest in Kerala. It is a month of festivities from the Bharani asterism in the month of Aquarius to 7 days after the Bharani asterism in the month of Pisces. Traditionally the temple (especially during the Bharani festival) has been associated with a lot of animal sacrifices. These customs have been done away with in the 20th century. The blood of the sacrificed used to be spilled over two stones in the prakaram, and as mentioned above, this practice is now stopped. The Bharani festival also witnesses the offering of worship to the deity in the innermost sanctum by those belonging to castes other than the priestly class. One day before the final Bharani, the chandanapodi Chartal or the smearing of the image with sandal paste is carried out. There are further festivities on this day and the following day. Thousands from all over Kerala congregate to celebrate this festival amidst great pageantry.

Makara Sankaranti

Makara Sankaranti coinciding with Pongal in Tamilnadu is one of the important festivals at Kodungallur. As in Taminadu, the day prior to Pongal is celebrated with the burning of unwanted belongings in a bonfire.

Makara Sankranti brings with it 4 days of colorful fanfare, with processions twice a day on elephants to the accompaniment of music, fireworks. The final day's procession is marked by the accompaniment of several women carrying plates of rice and coconut. In fact, the centermost entity in the procession, is a plate containing these offerings, on an elephant. A grand reception offered to this procession when it reaches the temple. The procession relives from the original location of the Bhagawati temple, (the Kurumbayamma shrine in Kodungallur).

Kodungallur Thalapoli Festival

The Thalapoli festival of the famous Kodungallur Bhagavathi Temple is held in December – January every year .

Koodalmanikyam Temple Festival , Irinjalakuda

Situated 10 km away from Irinjalakuda railway station, this ancient temple is dedicated to Lord Bharatha, the brother of Sri Rama. It is perhaps the only temple in India with Bharatha as the deity and devotees claim miraculous cures from disease and ill health.

The temple has a Koothambalam, where traditional temple art forms like Koothu and Koodiyattam are performed. During the festival, the deity is given a holy bath (Aarattu) at Kuleepini Theertham, the holy temple tank.

The annual festival lasts for 11 days. Ezhunnallathu or the Royal outing when the Symbolic image of the deity (Thidambu) is taken out in procession is the prime attraction of the festival. The Thidambu is accompanied by Seventeen caparisoned elephants, moving around the shrine to the accompaniment of Panchavadyam & Pancharimelam As part of the cultural fare, Chakyar Koothu is performed in the Koothambalam. An all - night Kathakali performance on the fourth day attracts large crowds.

Feast in St. Mary’s Church , Koratty

The church is locally known as ‘Koratty Muthi ‘s Church ‘. It is an old Catholic Church build in honor of St.Mary .The most important festival here is conducted during the second week of October .

Feast in St. Joseph’s Church , Pavaratty

The feast of this church which is celebrated in the name of St. Joseph , calls on the 22nd day after Easter .

Festival in Cheraman Juma Masjid , Kodungallur

This mosque resembles a Hindu temple in appearance and located 2 km from Kodungalloor town. Built in 629 AD, this is the first mosque in India and the second in the world where Juma prayers were started. People from far and near irrespective of caste and creed visit this holy place and pay their homage . Ramsan and Bhakrid are celebrated here on a grand scale.

Aarattupuzha Temple, Aarattupuzha

This temple, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa is located 14 Kms from Trichur. The annual festival, lasting seven days is known as Aarattupuzha Pooram. On the fifth day, the Thidampu is taken out in procession on elephant - back, accompanied by eight elephants and drummers. The sixth day of the festival is marked by the grand Pooram, when 61 elephants line - up in the temple grounds providing a spectacular sight. The festival concludes with Aarattu ( Holy bath).

Peruvanam Mahadeva Temple, Peruvanam

This temple, dedicated to Lord Siva, is 12 kms away from Trichur. Sprawling over a large area, this temple is a classic example of Kerala temple architecture. The Sanctum Sanctorum attracts special attention for its intricate carvings. The other building, Nalambalam, is adorned by thousands of oil lamps that are lit during the festival. The annual festival of the temple is celebrated only for a day. Villagers throng the temple in enthusiasm. By evening, elephant processions from neighboring temples assemble at this temple. There is a spectacular display of about thirty gorgeously decorated elephants. The traditional percussion music, Panchari melam and Pandimelam, performed by the drummers excite every one.

Koorkancherry Sree Maheswara Temple, Koorkancherry

The presiding deity of this temple, located 2 kms from Trichur, is Lord Siva. The Siva idol at this temple was installed by Sree Narayana Guru, the famous religious & social reformer.The festival of this temple is known as " Thypooya Maholsavam" and the celebrations last for seven days. The main attraction of the festival is the colourful performance of "Kavadiyattam". On the last day of the celebration, the 'Kavadiyattam procession starts in the morning, with ten sets of 'Kavadis', each set comprising 30 'Ambalakavadis' and 60 Pookavadis'. Ambalakavadi is a decorated model of the temple. Pookavadi is bow-shaped and the performer carrying the kavadi dances to the rhythm of music.

Kodungalloor Sree Kurumba Bhagavathi Temple

This is a very famous temple. Goddess Bhagavathi is the presiding deity. The idol of Bhagawati is huge with eight hands, wielding weapons. Besides the presiding deity, there are many other deities installed in various parts of this sprawling temple complex. Of the two main festivals, Thalapoli and Bharani, the latter is the most important one. Thalapoli is a colourful festival that lasts four days. On all the four days, Ezunnallathu with 9 elephants is held in the evening. The Bharani festival attracts the largest congregation of Oracles (Velichappadu), both men and women, from all over the state. Dressed in yellow and smeared in turmeric powder with their bell - studded waist belts and swords, they create an eerie atmosphere, totally out of this world. These oracles get into a frenzy and cut their forehead to offer blood to the deity. Cultural performances are a part of the festival.

Sree Rudhira Mahakali Kavu ( Uthralikavu) Vadakancherry

This temple is located high on the hills at Parithipara, 2 kms from Vadakancherry on the Shornur route. The annual festival " Uthralikavu Pooram" is one of the most famous festivals in Central Kerala. Grand elephant processions add colour to the festival. On the last day, 21 majestically decorated elephants line up to the rhythmic accompaniment of Panchavadyam and Pandimelam. The elephants go around the shrine, accompanied by thousands of devotees. The atmosphere gets charged with their spiritual chantings.The elephant parade is repeated at night under the flames of Theevetti and it lasts till dawn. Many religious and cultural art forms are performed as part of the festival.

Avittathur Siva Temple, Avittathur

This majestic temple is thousand - year old. Dedicated to Lord Siva, this temple is just 4 kms from Irinjalakuda. The outer wall of the temple shrine has beautiful paintings depicting scenes from the epics. The wood carvings on the ceilings are classic examples of Kerala woodcraft. The annual festival, Utsavam lasts 10 days and it is celebrated in splendour. Devotees throng the temple in thousands during the festival. The Thidampu Ezhunnallathu (Royal outing of the deity) is the most important feature of the festival. Ezhunnallathu is on the 9th day and the festival concludes on the 10th day with the Aarattu. The cultural fare includes music concerts and several other performances of art.

Sree Krishna Temple, Guruvayoor

Guruvayoor is one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in South India. It is well connected by rail and road to Trichur and hence to the rest of the country. Guruvayoor enshrines the youthful form of Krishna. This is a temple rich in legend, tradition and festivals.

Legend has it that Guru - the preceptor of Gods (Brihaspati) and Vaayu the wind God established this temple. Legend has it that this image was originally worshipped by Bhrama and gifted to Vishnu who retained it with him at Dwarka during his Krishnavataram. At the brink of destruction of Dwarka, Krishna instructed Uddhava to seek Vayu's and Guru's help to find a safe haven for the image. Accordingly Guru and Vayu installed this image at Guruvayur, on one side of a lotus lake, on the other side of which was a shrine to Shiva and Parvati.

It is believed that worshipping here relieves people of bodily ailments. Legend has it that Janamejaya, son of Parikshit was cured of leprosy upon installing the image of Krishna and worshipping here. Yet another legend has it that a Pandya King was cured of a snake bite while worshipping here.

History: The famous work Naaraayaneeyam - authored in the 16th century was composed in the presence of the presiding deity here, and its author is believed to have been cured of an incurable bout of arthritis. At the time of the political turmoil that prevailed during the period of Tippu Sultan, the image of Krishna was taken to Ambalapuzha for safety and worshipped there for a period of 2 years. It was then brought back in 1789.

The mandala ulsavam is celebrated for a period of 41 days towards the end of each calendar year. The annual ulsavam or festival is celebrated in the month of Kumbha, and this festival concludes with an elephant race.

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