Thrissur Pooram is a colourful festival in Kerala held every summer, known for its grand procession of elephants, the panchavadyas (music from five instruments) and high decibel firecrackers. Here are some images from Pooram, which was celebrated in April this year.
The day of the pooram begins with richly decorating the elephants with gilded ornaments on their foreheads and their mahouts holding colourful umbrellas. The artists play panchavadya all through the day, dwarfing all other sounds and noises from the large gathering of crowds. Firecrackers are burst occasionally, but bulk of the firework display happens during small hours of second day of the festival. The giant pachyderms spend these two days amidst great noise, with large crowds always standing very close to the elephants.
A procession of elephants leave Vadakumnathan Temple in the evening of the first day, progressing through a crowd of tens of thousands of people. At the end of the procession, the elephants from Vadakumnathan Temple and nearby Paramekkavu Bhagavathi Temple stand facing each other at a distance of about 100m. It follows with a display of colourful umbrellas and fans from each temple for a few hours in a ritual called kudamattam. Kudamattam continues for many hours even after sunset before the first day’s festival comes to an end.
Decorated elephants in front of Paramekkavu Temple
Elephants assembled in front of Vadakumnathan Temple before the procession
The procession of elephants in the evening through the crowds
Note the large number of people blowing into kombu a kind of trumpet.
Chanda, a kind of drum is another instrument among the five that make panchavadya. You can see a total of four musical instruments in the picture.
Perhaps the only participants of the festival who do not enjoy being there are these tuskers. They have to toil through heavy noise and crowds against there will. Nothing beats the irony of having anklets in one leg, while having chains on the other. Also read: my earlier story on the elephants of Guruvayur Temple.
Elephants progressing through the crowd.
Kudamattam, a display of colourful umbrellas by Vadakumnathan Temple and Paramekkavu Bhagavathi Temple