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5th May 2017 is the day that, according to the Malayalam calendar, the Pooram stars (part of the Leo constellation) rises with the moon. On this day, the ancient temples of Kerala come alive with celebrations and music. Every major temple in the state has its own Pooram festival, celebrated in a grand scale with the beat of the drums, the tune of percussion instruments and elephants, lots and lots of elephants. But the festival that takes the cake is Thrissur Pooram, considered the biggest and grandest of them all. Here is a look at everything you need to know about the Thrissur Pooram 2017 festival, particularly the festivities. ALSO READ: Thrissur Pooram 2017 celebration in Kerala
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Held at the iconic Vadakkunnathan Temple in Thrissur city, the festival was established in the close of the 18th century by the famous ruler of the Kingdom of Cochin, Raja Rama Varma, who was also called Sakthan Thampuran. With his palace in Thrissur, the king played a huge role in shaping the city as Kerala’s cultural capital. The story behind the creation of Thrissur Pooram is an interesting one, but there is no denying that since it began in 1798, the festival has gone on to become a cultural spectacle that lasts for days. Here is a look at what happens during the festival. Also Read - Condition of Student With Nipah Stable, 5 Others Kept in Isolation

The festival starts with an early morning procession of the Kanimangalam Shasta, with the deity of the goddess being carried from the participating temples. Interestingly, the Vadukunnathan Temple remains a spectator throughout the festival, with two major and eight minor temples in the surrounding region being the actual participants. The Vadukunnathan Temple’s premises are offered as a host to the festival, but the temple itself does not carry out any special prayer, ceremony or program connected to the Pooram.

To start the festivities, a special flag hoisting ceremony called Kodiyettam is performed. The ceremony is conducted by three modalities: Padahadi, Anguradi and Dhwajadi. There are specific rules for the flag and the hoisting ceremony. With this, the festivities begin and so do the fireworks that are performed by the two participating groups of temples: Paramekkavu on the east and Thiruvambady on the west.

Thrissur Pooram

Thrissur Pooram

One of the most visible elements of the multi-day festival is the line of decorated elephants from various temples. On top of the caparisoned elephants, performers rhythmically twirl and change brightly coloured parasols in a ritual called Kudamattom. Two sides of the pageant of elephants show off their respective parasols in a vibrant display of colours. Meanwhile, percussion ensembles like the Panchavadyam, Pancharimelam and Pandimelam play festive beats, adding to the festive and energetic atmosphere.

You can find large crowds at the Thekkinkadu Maidan as people follow the procession from the Thiruvambady Sri Krishna Temple. The Paramekkavu Devi procession also arrives at the Vadakkunnathan Temple, with the tunes of the Pandimelam ensemble as company. When the procession arrives at the Elanji tree at the temple compound, the Elanjithara Melam begins, with the musicians belting out festive tunes with unwavering energy. As the processions of the Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu temples face each other, the excitement of the crowd gather reaches its peak and so does the celebration.

The festival comes to a close as the processions turn back to their respective temples. Fireworks accompany celebrations at night, lighting up to the sky for as long as three to four hours. The rival temple groups compete with each other here, vying for the better fireworks display. Meanwhile, spectators soak in the visual and aural wonders and celebrate, shedding aside all their worries and doubts. ALSO READ: Festivals in India in May 2017 that you should not miss

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