Thrissur Pooram, the biggest festival of Kerala is back again, and this year it’s happening on May 13. This 36-hour long celebration is held at Vadakkumnathan Temple in the heart of the town, and the adjoining Thekkinkadu Maidanam in Thrissur. It’s a resplendent festival, and is touted as the mother of all poorams because of its grandiosity.

There’s a huge display of decked up elephants, dazzling parasols, and percussion music; the festival is a spectacle merging the spiritual and cultural essence of Kerala. It was the brainchild of Shakthan Thampuran, the Maharaja of Kochi from 1790 – 1805, who organised the festival by bringing together 10 important temples namely: Paramekkavu, Thiruvambadi, Kanimangalam, Karamucku, Laloor, Choorakottukara, Panamukkampally, Ayyanthole, Chembukkavu, and Neythilakavu.

He invited these temples with their deities to the city of Thrissur to pay obeisance to Lord Vadakkunnathan (Lord Siva), the presiding deity of Vadakkunnathan Temple. The festival is commenced with a flag-hoisting ceremony, locally known as Kodiyettam, where all the temples are present. Then there’s a display of light fireworks, and a ceremony that involves displaying the caparisons of the elephants. Then there’s a swift and rhythmic changing of brightly coloured and sequinned parasols – all of this adding a touch of vibrancy to the festival.

Another high point of the festival is the ilanjithara melam, a highly bewitching performance of traditional instruments which brings joy to thousands of spectators who gather for the festival. Around 250 odd local artistes participate in this traditional orchestra and the spirit of the scene is mirrored by the spectators who wave their hands in accordance to the rhythm generated by the various traditional instruments such as  chenda, kurumkuzhal, kombu and elathalam. The finale is then marked by a grand firework show.

The nearest railway station is in Thrissur, about a kilometer away from the centre of the town. The nearest airport is the Cochin International Airport, about 58km from Thrissur.