Within the 5 mile radius around Arattupuzha, vehicular traffic was not allowed after 5pm. So I walked along with the sea of humanity amid food vendors piled up on the sides, handtoy sellers generating enough noise to attract the children, finally reaching the grand entrance to the Pooram grounds.
The scale was larger than the Peruvanam Pooram no doubt, this after all is considered to be one of the biggest Pooram celebrated in Thrissur for the last 1000 yrs.
Being the finale after a full week of temple rituals, tens of thousands of people were expected and the arrangements looked good to manage this. There was even a community kitchen in the works to offer food through the night.
The Sree Sastha Temple, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, is believed to be more than 3000 years old and this is the venue for the Pooram. It is believed that during the festival period, Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity at the Sree Sastha Temple is visited by gods and goddesses of the neighbouring villages.
The only vehicles allowed were the trucks with the elephants coming from different villages. With elaborate care and practice each of these tuskers got down from their vehicles and proceeded to go inside the temple premises.
Around 7pm, the temple was fully lit up and the anticipation of start got the people excited and they converged around the temple grounds.
The rituals started with the Lord Sastha arriving in the temple courtyard to welcome the Gods and Goddesses arriving to attend the ‘devamela’ or the divine gathering of gods. We were witnessing a grand elephant pageantry featuring fiftteen caparisoned tuskers. Adding to the festive mood was the Pancharimelam, the traditional percussion ensemble, performed by about 250 artists.
The Pooram was in its full element, men atop elephants holding Muthukudas (sequined, glittering umbrellas) and venchamarams (white whisks).The white whisks swayed and were held to the Melam (concert). Then there was the “Theevetti”, a flame bearing staff with multi parallel branches during the Melam.
The festivities would continue through the night, the deities from about 24 temples atop the majestic tuskers would arrive in full glory and keep mesmerizing. I decided to return back at 1am with all the memories and experiences captured with me and hope to be part of this event called Pooram again.