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Pooram
Kerala, a land of scenic beauty, is also celebrated for its temples and their festivals. There are 10,000 and odd temples in Kerala and each one of them observes a major festival annually. Local tastes and convenience normally dictate these festivals but transcending local barriers is the "Thrissur Pooram", which attracts thousands of people from far and near. During this festival, lasting 36 hours, the entire town of Thrissur wears a look of festivity with surging crowds of men, women and children.
pooram Thrissur, a typical South Indian town, is called the "Southern Kailas" and its name is derived from its ancient name, Sri Shiva Perur - a place hallowed by the name of Lord Shiva. "Pooram" is the festival of two consorts of the Thrissur temples - the "Paramekkavu Devi" called "Bhagavathi" from the east and "Thiruvambadi Devi" from the north.

The "Pooram" festival is held in the month of either April or May. This name has originated from the constellation of stars. The scene of "Pooram" activity is the "Thekkam Kad" ground (an erstwhile teak forest) which is indeed a circular hillock, about 60 acres in extent with a fairly wide road encircling it. In the center of the mound is the magnificent "Saivite" temple called "Vadakkunathan", the Lord of North, who plays only the role of a spectator during these festivities.

The goddess, "Paramekkavu Devi", said to be the daughter of Lord Shiva was once residing under an "elanji" tree. When some devotees decided to construct a temple for Bhagwathy, they shifted her to the new precincts. "Elanji" continues to be the sacred tree of the temple. According to legend, Bhagwathy had an elder sister in "Thiruvambadi Devi" of the Sri Krishna temple. According to some, "Pooram" is a veritable competition in offering worship and celebrations for a year of plenty.
pooram ornamnets in displayThe festival is credited to Raja Ravi Varma, also known as "Sakthan Thamburan" (powerful king) who ruled over Thrissur and its adjoining areas in 1790 AD. Prior to his reign, "Pooram" was held in Arattapuzha, 15 km away. It was held on a grand scale at this place hosting 108 deities. For some inexplicable reason, a few of the temples broke away from this joint observance of "Pooram" and started on their own. However, the Thrissur deities, on one or two occasions, perhaps could or did not participate at Arattapuzha due to heavy floods. This led the "Saktan Thamburan" to celebrate "Pooram" at "Thrissur" itself. Hence, he had the "Thekkan Maidan" cleared of teak for observing "Pooram" year after year on a grand scale. Apart from "Bhagwathy" and "Thiruvambadi Devi" temples, other deities of smaller temples called ôSiru Pooram" also participate.

The festival begins with the flag-hoisting ceremony called "Kodiyettam". This is observed in all participating temples. On the eve of "Pooram" day, the committed (devaswoms) in charge of the two temples, exhibit shimmering and colorful ornaments that will decorate the elephants on the next day in the halls adjoining these temples. This attracts a large crowd.
The day prior to the "Pooram" also witnesses the arrival of the "celebrities" of the festival - the prodigious tuskers! A "mahout" and a "kavadi" attendant escort each elephant. The "Paramakkavu" and "Thiruvambadi" temples put up 15 tuskers each while the "Siru Poorams" organize five to six elephants. Though the temples may own one or two elephants, the rest are hired for the duration of the festival. In fact, at one point, this engendered a tense rivalry between the "Paramakkavu" and "Thiruvambadi" devaswoms because of their keenness to hire the tallest tuskers at much higher rates! This rivalry was happily put to an end with the two devaswoms agreeing to hire the best elephants, dividing them into two sets of 15 and using the two sets by turn.
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