Thrissur: After being observed as a low-key affair for the last two years due to COVID-19 restrictions, Kerala's iconic festival 'Thrissur Pooram' was held with all grandeur and gaiety on Tuesday with the parade of richly caparisoned jumbos, performance of traditional music ensembles and a sea of cheering people.
Cutting across caste, religion and age barriers, thousands of people flocked the sprawling Thekkinkadu Maidan in front of the famed Vadakkunnathan Temple here in the evening to have a glimpse of the annual spectacle, which is generally billed as the mother of all temple festivals in the southern state.
They clapped and cheered in unison when the parade and face-to-face meeting of 30 caparisoned elephants--15 each from the Paramekkavu and Thiruvambady temples--was held adhering to the centuries-old customs and traditions.
'Kudamattam', the change of colourful ornamental silk parasols in quick succession by people mounted atop the elephants, enthralled the spectators assembled in the courtyard of the temple braving rains. The display of 'nettipattams' (the golden caparisons) 'venchamaram' (ornamental fan made of peacock feathers) and 'muthukkuda' (decorative umbrellas) was a feast to the eyes.
The 'panchavadyam and pandimelam', the traditional music ensembles, in front of elephants by an array of percussionists added rhythmic beauty to the spectacle.
The unexpected spread of the pandemic and the lockdown curbs followed it had forced the authorities to limit the Pooram festivities with namesake rituals and programmes in the last two years, causing a great pain to the festival buffs.
So, the Pooram lovers were eagerly waiting for this year's spectacle, which finally went off well according to their expectations.
The two-centuries-old Thrissur Pooram had its origin in 1798, through a royal edict of the then Raja Rama Varma, popularly known as Shakthan Thampuran, a powerful ruler of the erstwhile princely state of Cochin.
The edict entrusted two local temples -- Paramekkavu and Thiruvambady -- as the main sponsors of the festivities to be conducted in a competitive spirit.
Besides the main poorams by the two Devaswoms, small poorams from nearby temples also participated in the festivities, which ended with a massive fireworks display.
However, this year's Thrissur Pooram found place in news for some wrong reasons as the Paramekkavu Devaswom, a temple group that is among the organisers of the festival, recently ran into a controversy after its authorities decided to feature Hindutva icon V D Savarkar in an ornate umbrella as part of the upcoming festivities. The umbrellas, featuring various renaissance and freedom movement leaders including Mahatma Gandhi, Bhagat Singh and other prominent leaders from Kerala, also had an image of Savarkar.
However, the temple authorities withdrew the umbrella from display after leaders of the Congress and the CPI(M) raised an objection.