Arattupuzha Pooram : Electrifying ambiance of a Festival in Kerala
The excitement was in the air when a close friend of mine invited me for the Arattupuzha Pooram. He is a native of the place had all local information, and I was quite happy that I could see most of the episodes of the pooram festival within the available time we were there. We reached there by late evening say around 9 PM at Puthukkad, where the Arattupuzha (River) flows and the Arattupuzha Temple is situated. Puthukkad is in Thrissur, the cultural capital of Kerala, India and is the district that is the venue for most poorams in the state.
Poorams are in its full grandeur during the night, especially the Arattupuzha Pooram. Supposedly, this Pooram is a 1400 year ritual and is considered to be the mother of all Poorams because it is the oldest of the Poorams, and most of the other Poorams are in some way connected or derived from the Arattupuzha pooram. We were there on the last day of the seven-day long festival, and it was an overnight celebration. The Aratupuzha temple is a Sree Shasta temple, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, an incarnation of Dharma Shasta. The festival is about the welcoming of all Gods who come for the annual visit of Lord Ayappa.
After dinner, we were all set to for the Pooram. We went through short cuts and narrow country roads lighted up with tube lights..and crossed the bridge over the Arratupuzha river. We went along with a few caparisoned elephants accompanied by men with lighted lamps to the Temple. Even before we reached the venue, we could hear the echoes of the Chenda (A Kerala Drum out of cow leather) beats and the Kuzhal (A long double reed wind instrument).
As we moved closer, we could see a sea of humanity waving and swaying to the beats and tunes of the Panchavadhyam. The Pooram was in its full swing, men atop elephants holding “Muthukudas” (sequined, glittering umbrellas) and "Venchamarams" (white whisks) lined up in a row opposite to the crowd... The white whisks are swayed and held to the Melam (concert). They Keep “Theevetti,” - a staff with multi parallel branches flamed during the “Melam” (an orchestral extravaganza) that adds color and light for the Pooram.
The pooram takes place in multiple sessions, more than seventy elephants participate and most of them brought from different parts of the state in trucks. All the elephants are brought inside the temple for the pooja and later walked outside the temple for the “Melam.” We move towards the Pooram Parambe, where an array of crackers loaded with gun powder was just about to be lit, it’s called the “Vedikettu.” Something was just on its way for us as if we are on a battle field, I have never experienced something like that, within minutes the crackers blew up, and it went on without any break, the experience was similar to that of a war field. The energy released was so huge that you could feel it in your hearts, Boom! I hid within the crowd, and once it was over, I could hear only some bee buzz, just echoes, all my hearing capacities had gone elsewhere.
We could see more elephants coming in, and the Pooram was a continuous event with more Panchavadyam, Pancharimelam, and Pandimelam playing their best possible beats and rhythms. After the bombing episode, it was time for us to leave. We left with some of the best experiences of the Arattupuzha Pooram.