Malayalam Film News

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thrissur Pooram

Thrissur Pooram - Background & History

Thrissur Pooram is today, rightfully, called 'the pooram of all poorams' (literally translated from malayalam), meaning the biggest or the best of all poorams. The Thrissur pooram, is celebrated every year, on the pooram day, in the month of Medam (mid-april to mid-may) month as per the malayalam calendar. While all poorams (read temple festivals), have a huge influence on surrounding neighborhoods and towns, few other festivals require their active involvement. Thrissur town plays host, for 36 hours from the wee hours of the pooram day, to one of the most largest collection of people and elephants. The richly decorated elephant, as seen during the Thrissur pooram, is now globally recognized, and its association with Kerala. On the pooram day, fifty (50) or more elephants will pass through the very center of Thrissur town, or the Vadakkunnathan temple.

While India is considered to be between 5000 to 10000 years old, and many rituals, hindu customs and festivals date back centuries, the Thrissur pooram is only about 200 or more years old. It was orchestrated by the then ruler of Cochin, Sakthan Thampuran or Raja Rama Varma, in 1798. Sakthan Thampuran, so known for his firm and decisive administration, decided to break tradition and create a venue for the temples belonging to his region to celebrate their pooram festival.

Before the advent of Thrissur Pooram, the largest temple festival during summer in Thrissur thaluk was the one-day festival held at Arattupuzha, 12 km south of the city. Temples in and around Thrissur were regular participants of this religious exercise until they were denied entry by the chief of Peruvanam Gramam. The delay caused by the temples from Thrissur and Kuttanellur, was one of the reasons for denial. This caused the Thrissur Naduvazhi, the chief poojari of Vadakkunnathan, known as Yogadiripad and the Kuttanellur Naduvazhi started the pooram in Thrissur. This pooram started as an act of reprisal quickly lost its charm, after infighting between the two main Naduvazhis. It required the intervention of the ruler to get this right. Sakthan Thampuran unified the 10 temples situated around Vadakkunnathan temple and organized the celebration of Thrissur Pooram as a mass festival. Sakthan Thampuran ordained these temples into two groups, Western group and Eastern group. The Western group as Thiruvambady consisting of Kanimangalam, Laloor, Ayyanthole, Nethilakkavu and the Thiruvambady temple, as the main one. The Eastern group called as Paramekkavu, consisting in addition to Paramekkavu temple, Karamukku, Chembukavu, Choorakottukavu and Panamukkamppilly. The pooram was to be centered around the Vadakkunnathan temple, with all these temples sending their poorams (the whole procession), to pay obeisance to the Shiva, the presiding deity. The Thampuran is believed to have chalked out the program and the main events of the Thrissur pooram festival. It is this historical background that determines the course of the pooram program and it is specifically the ruler's antipathy to the Brahmin aristocracy to open Thrissur pooram for the common man.

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