Arattupuzha is a culturally significant village located in Thrissur district of Kerala. This village, about 15 km from the town of Thrissur is renowned for the annual festival called Arattupuzha Pooram. It is a festival that takes place with the Sree Sastha Temple, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, as the nerve centre. It is believed that during the festival period, Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity at the Sree Sastha Temple is visited by gods and goddesses of the neighbouring villages.
The annual festival at Arattupuzha is also termed as the mother of all pooram festivals in Kerala, due to its sheer magnitude and grandeur. The Sree Sastha Temple, which is believed to be more than 3000 years old, and its premises are the venue for the festivities.
Visitors from nearby and from far off places reach the village of Arattupuzha during the festival days, to be part of this grand festival. The pinnacle of excitement and devotion during the seven-day festival is obviously the last two days. The evening prior to the last day of the festival would have an assembly of caparisoned elephants and staging of percussion ensembles as part of the ceremony called Sasthavinte Melam.
The atmosphere during Sasthavinte Melam would have the brilliance of the many brightly lit traditional lamps and also the huge flame bearing staffs, locally called as theevetti. Once this ceremony is over, the elephants carrying deities of nearby temples would proceed to the adjoining paddy field for the grand spectacle that would have 61 elephants lined up amidst a cheering crowd. By early morning the venue would become electrifying with groups of traditional percussion ensembles comprising Panchavadyam, Pacharimelam and Pandimelam playing their best possible beats and rhythms, while the the caparisoned elephants bearing muthukkudas (sequined, glittering umbrellas) and venchamarams (white whisks) make a delightful sight, they also stand patiently and entertain the crowd.
At sunrise, the elephants carrying deities from neighbouring temples that had gathered at the Sree Sastha Temple at Arattupuzha would proceed to the nearby river for the aarattu ceremony.
It is a ceremonial cleansing process by immersing the idol in the river water amidst chanting of mantras and floral offerings. The last two undergo the aarattu would be Lord Ayyappan, the presiding deity at Arattupuzha.The Arattupuzha pooram is celebrated to mark the coming together of Gods and Goddesses and the festival is truly a crowd puller due to its elaborate proceedings and grandeur.