Thrissur (Kerala), April 21 (IANS) Thousands of people, including foreign tourists, gathered here Sunday to witness cultural programmes associated with Thrissur Pooram, billed as the “mother of all festivals” in Kerala.
Sunday is the grand finale of the festival where hundreds of foreign tourists are present to witness it. The festival, which lasts close to 36 hours, will end in the wee hours of Monday with a fireworks display.
The most keenly watched event of the festival was the parading Sunday of more than 50 elephants and a fireworks spectacle.
Secularism is the hallmark of Thrissur Pooram with Hindus joined by Muslims and Christians in preparing for the festival.
Most of the artisans who make the roadside shamianas (marquees) are Muslims while a school associated with a church provides space for keeping the elephants, which are later paraded in the festival.
Celebrated every year in the month of ‘Medam’ (mid-April to mid-May) as per the Malayalam calendar, the festival was introduced by King Sakthan Thampuran of the erstwhile Kochi state in the late 18th century.
The participating temples include the Vadakunnathan Temple, the Krishna temple at Thiruvambadi and the Devi temple at Paramekkavu.
The festival is organised in the sprawling Thekkinkadu Maidan, the major venue of Thrissur Pooram that lies at the centre of Thrissur town and visitors take their place on the road that runs round these temples.
“This is a marvellous visual treat and, believe me, I have travelled a bit and am yet to witness anything near to what I am seeing now. I have read a lot about this pooram and am enjoying every bit,” said Lesther Julian, who has arrived from Sweden.
Another breathtaking event is the Panchavadyam in which about 250 artistes playing musical instruments like Thimila, Maddalam, Trumpet, Cymbal and Edakka participate.
Then there is the Pandemelam where another 250 artistes who are experts in the playing of musical instruments like drum, trumpets, pipe and cymbal participate.
“This is the one festival that has to be both heard and seen and it’s something one has to experience. In the past I have seen on video the entire festival, but seeing it with my own eyes, is a feeling that one has to experience and I am really happy and fully satisfied that I am here,” said American tourist Marshneile Sylvester.
The single-most visually rich event and the most keenly awaited one is the exhibition of the paraphernalia of elephant decorative coverings, commonly known as ‘Aana Chamayal Pradarsanam’.
The spectacular show of ‘Kudamattom’ is also keenly watched in which parasols of myriad numbers, designs and colours are exchanged by the people atop the 30 elephants, of which 15 line up one side and the other 15 on the opposite side and it is a virtual competition between the two sides.