Thrissur Pooram is the most colorful of all the temple festivals of Kerala and one of the most interesting festivals in India. It is celebrated in Thrissur at the Vadakkunnathan (dedicated to Lord Shiva) temple in the month of Medam (April/May). Situated on a hillock right in the center of the city, the spaciously laid out temple attracts thousands of devotees and tourists from around the world during the festival.
Thrissur Pooram is a magnificent spectacle with night long fireworks, colorful 'Kudamattom' (a parasol & peacock-fan performance), the famous 'Elanjithara Melam' (traditional Indian orchestra) and a splendid elephant procession. The best looking elephants from the various temples in Kerala are sent to Trichur to participate in the grand eight day Pooram Festival.
The 36 hour celebration at the end of Thrissur Pooram commences in the morning with a procession of fifteen elephants marching from the Thiruvambadi temple to the nearby Vadakkunnathan temple. The main elephant of the group carries the idol of Lord Krishna. At the same time another group of 15 elephants starts on the same journey from the Paramekavu Bhagavathy temple. The leader of this group carries the idol of Devi (Goddess). These thirty decorated elephants stand facing each other in two rows in the Tekkinkadu Maidan (the grounds surrounding the Vadakkunnathan temple) while a melam (orchestra) plays traditional music.
The melam includes about 80 drummers as well as many musicians playing nadaswarams (a flute like instrument) and other traditional instruments. In the early afternoon a crescendo of music starts from the area under an Elanchi tree called the 'Elanchithara Melam' that lasts for three hours. The artists competitive spirit with each other during this period. A fascinating sight to behold is the elephants when they seem to follow the music by shaking their ears along with the rhythm of the drums.
In the evening participants carrying beautifully embellished parasols and 'Venchamaramas' (peacock-fans) stand on the elephants and the parasol competition called 'Kudamattom' begins. A fascinating performance created by moving the parasols and fans in rhythm to the music is one of the highlights of the festival.
At the end of this performance the statues of Krishna and the Goddess are returned to their temples. When night falls there are lamps lit all over the grounds, creating a serene yet festive atmosphere. In the very early morning a spectacular display of fireworks begins and lasts for about three hours. The display of fireworks is a competition between the two groups representing the two divisions of Trichur, Paramekkavu and Tiruvuvampadi. Each year the display gets more spectacular as the two groups try to outdo each other.