Kerala's Thrissur Pooram
When the moon rises with the Pooram star in Kerala, India the community gathers to celebrate Thrissur Pooram, a religious and cultural festival of festivals every year.
The event, which is celebrated in temples, is scheduled according to the Malayalam Calendar, a solar Hindu calendar that dates back to 825 CE. This year, according to the Gregorian calendar it will take place April 17.
This particular event was developed by the Maharaja of Cochin who in 1798 tried to unite all of the temples with a shared festival.
It is believed that during Thrissur Pooram the gods and goddesses of all temples assemble at Kerala’s Vadakkumnathan Temple. This unification is dedicated to goddesses Durga , considered to be the principal deity of creation, preservation and annihilation, and can last up to 36 hours.
Festival of Elephants
It is also known as the Festival of Elephants for two reasons. First, it is thought that the deities’ arrive by elephant which is viewed as a sacred animal. Second, there are processions of decorated elephants and ecstatic music to the temple.
One of the more interesting aspects of Thrissur Pooram elephants are the colorful caparisons they wear on their heads. In many cases they are made of gold and can include jewel-like stones and peacock feathers.
Although it is a religious experience it is also cultural. The Kerala community has developed an exhibition that draws a fair number of people each year. It is basically secular in nature so can be enjoyed by those of other faiths.
Another interesting feature of Thrissur Pooram are the elephant caparisons.
Fortunately, along with educating others about this valuable tradition, this elaborate celebration of fireworks and more also provides a source of revenue shared by all of the temples.