After all how much honey can the bees gather from a sea of blue flowers!?
The municipal town of Thrissur is only around 28 kilometers from Guruvayur. You may wonder why this place, Thrissur, as you circle around the Thekkinkadu ground, known as the Round, is known as the cultural capital of the state. This is the seat of so many premier institutions like Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi, Lalithakala Akademi, and Kerala Sahitya Akademi.
Kerala Kalamandalam founded by the legendary Malayalam poet Mahakavi Vallathol is on the banks of Bharathapuzha, at Cheruthuruthi which is only thirty kilometers away on the Kodungallur road. The institute’s main objective is to preserve, teach and promote traditional artforms like Kathakali and is doing a meritorious job in it. You can see the tomb of the great poet in the premises of the old Kalamandalam. The town of Thrissur constructed by erstwhile powerful ruler Shakthan Thampuran still carries the rich legacies of yesteryear proudly in its rituals and many monuments.
Thrissur alias Thrissivapperoor is the seat of Lord Siva: Thri - Siva - peroor. You won’t miss the majestic Vadakkunnathan temple in the town with Lord Siva as the presiding deity.
Come the Malayalam month of Medam (April/May) thousands of people flock in to the town to witness and be part of Thrissur Pooram, a unique festival popular all over the world. The festival begins with flag hoisting, kodiyettam.
You’d be pleasantly curious about the traditional but friendly competition for supremacy between groups of people representing two different temples - Thiruvambadi and Paramekkavu – in Pooram.
Many scholars believe that Shakthan Thampuran, the erstwhile King of Kochi flagged off the ceremony long ago as a political measure to check the power of priestly community. First, he divided the priests into two groups and pitched them against each other in the name of the new festival, and then he ensured public participation in the event, thereby secularizing religious places. What a political masterstroke that was!
But Shakthan Thampuran could not have seen such a huge crowd would one day gather in Thekkinkadu ground coming from different parts of the world for something he began long ago.
The highlight of Pooram is spectacular ‘kudamattam’ ceremony when amidst a sea of human beings, two arrays of elephants fully decked with caparisons, elephant accoutrements (chamayam), royal fans (venchamaram), ornamental fans made of peacock feathers (alavattam) stand facing each other for hours while the mahouts sitting atop the pachyderms change the bright-coloured ornamental parasols (kudamattam) in fast pace to the beat of panchavadyam - an extravaganza of traditional music instruments in performance. Soon you’d find yourself caught in the spirit of Pooram joining one of the two groups of elephants cheering it on with your top voice as it faces off the opposite side.
The festival comes to an end with spectacular pyrotechnics when the two groups once again face each other off in yet another competition in fireworks. On the seventh day with the ritual farewell ceremony, the festival comes to an end. The town slowly teeters back to its placid and lethargic mood, bidding farewell to thousands of visitors who still could be trying hard to digest what vortex of excitement they were thrown into and had emerged out of a few hours ago! Pooram is so addictive that visitors usually leave Thrissur but not without noting in their mental calendar the dates of the next season.
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