This pooram of all Poorams falls in April. It is intrinsically a people's festival and is different from other festivals like the Kumbha Mela of Allahabad, the Vijayadashami pageantry of Mysore or the Rath Yatra of Puri. Pooram has participation from people cutting across all barriers of religion and caste.
The unique catholic nature of Pooram could be traced to its genesis two centuries ago when Sakthan Thampuran (1751-1805), architect of Thrissur, became the ruler of the erstwhile Kochi state. He took up the renovation of the Vaddakkannathan temple complex which was enclosed by high walls. The four massive gopurams have been ascribed to him. At a time when nobody would have dared to look straight at the powerful Namboodiris, Sakthan Thampuran stripped them of their powers and took over the administration of the temple that claimed an antiquity of more than three centuries. He who made the sprawling Thekkinkadu Maidan the major venue of Thrissur Pooram. Again, he entrusted the onus of holding the festival to the two public temples- Tthiruvampadi and Paramekkavu that had never been under the control of the Namboodiris. He is said to have drawn up the 36-hour hectic schedule of the festival.
Thrissur Pooram is one of grand spectacles. The two devaswams- Thiruvampadi and Paramekkavu- explore and exploit every source at their command to make this festival a memorable one. It is celebrated with a colourful procession of caparisoned elephants, exchange of parasols, drum concerts, display of pyro-techniques and refreshing scenes of public participation.
During the festival season, this temple town is transformed into a dream city of colour, music and mirth. The Pooram programmes extending to 36 hours begins with the ezhunellippu of the Kanimangalam Shasta in the morning and is followed by the ezhunnellippu of the other six minor temples on the Pooram Day. The ezhunnellippu programme,is considered a ritual sybolising the visit of the Devi from the Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi temples to the Vadakkunnathan temple.
A major feature of the festival is the Panchavadyam in which about 200 exponents of percussion instruments like the Thimila, Maddalam, Trumpet, Cymbal and Edakka participate. Another major event of the pooram begins with the setting off of the 'Pandemelam'at noon in which about 200 artistes participate. The grand finale of this festival is marked with a function of bidding farewell to the deities at the Western Gate of the Vadakkunnathan Temple.
A noteworthy feature of the pooram festival is the participation of large numbers of people and elephants. The pachyderms emerge out in all their regalia. They make their way through the milling crowds to the accompaniment of percussion ensembles. The spectacle of the elephant decorative is known as 'Aana Chamayal pradarsanam', the spectacular show of 'Kudamattom' in which parasols of myriad designs and colours are exchanged by those atop the elephants.
The Pooram festival concludes with a spectacular fire works display, which is held in the wee hours of the day after Pooram. The Thiruvambadi and Paramekkavu Devaswams present many innovative patterns and varieties of fire works, making spectators go into raptures.
The most striking feature of the Pooram is its secular nature. Members of the Muslim and Christian communities actively take part in it and play a prominent role in the conduct of the festival. Most pandals are crafted and designed by expert Muslim artisans. For the two days of the festival, the CMS High School, owned by the North Kerala Diocese of CST Church and located on the western part of the Swaraj Round, becomes virtually the Headquarters of the Thiruvampadi Devaswam. The temple elephants are tied in the school compound.
The 'Aana Chamaya pradarsanam' is also held here. The parasols for the 'Kudamattom' are offered by the churches and their members.