India’s rich cultural diversity ensures a festival/celebration almost every day of the year. While many are rituals dedicated to a dazzling array of God’s and goddesses,some are grand festivals unique to a region or month.
One such gathering is the Thrissur Pooram,in which deities from neighbouring villages are brought on caparisoned elephants in a colourful procession which culminates at the ancient and famous temple of Shiva or Lord Vadakkunathan.
I was lucky to watch the unfolding of this spectacle in 2015 as I landed a day earlier to get a ringside view of the preparations – all the elephants undergoing stringent health check up under the watchful eyes of PETA,SPCA and other social organisations. The district authorities are supposed to ensure that the animals are not tortured or abused.
Crowds start swelling up as night envelops but it is no hint for the massive crowds that would throng the considerably wide street in front of the temple next day. CHOKING sea of human beings everywhere!
And rightly so ! Because two sets of elephants are arrayed in front of the temple and ‘kudamattam’or exchange of colourful umbrellas lends a vibrant and joyous mood to the festivities.
While you can read the history of Pooram from many sources on the web, here are some practical tips.
1. This year Pooram falls on Monday,the 13th of May.
2. If you are keen on only watching the celebrations,you don’t have to necessarily book a hotel in Thrissur because all the hotels in the vicinity jack up the rates astronomically. These are hotels which provide a view from their terraces. A room that normally rents out at Rs 2000 per day shoots upto Rs 22000 on Pooram day. You could stay on the outskirts and make it to the spot.
3. If you are a photographer,it is already late to book vantage points as the best view is not from ground level as teeming masses will block your view. Contact your friends in the govt, police dept or any of the media channels and latch onto them for positioning yourself. This suggestion is only for the crucial ‘kudamattam’ . Until then you have plenty of photo opportunities walking around,getting up close to the elephants and even chatting up with the mahouts or caretakers.
4. Although the ‘Kudamattom’ is scheduled for late afternoon,jostling crowds gather in the morning itself. Scouting around for an appropriate place and sticking to the position for three to four hours is imperative if you go there without any contacts.
5. However,even as you walk around the previous day and on the morning of Pooram,you will find the entire town decked up with unbridled happiness and devotion.
Easily,one of the grandest sights to behold! Do make your plans to be there on the 12th May and immerse yourself in this colourful spectacle of incredible India!
the entrance to Lord Vadakkunathan temple through which the deities make a grand entry on caparisoned elephants.