Excitement was in the air when a close friend of mine invited me for the Arattupuzha Pooram. He being a native from the place had all local information and I was quite happy that I could see most of the episodes of the pooram 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 Trissur, the cultural capital of Kerala, India and is the district that is the venue for most poorams in the state.
Poorams are in its complete grandeur in the night, specially 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 for 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 through narrow country roads lighted up with tubes..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 echos 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 sessions, more than seventy elephants participated and most of them were 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 are loaded with gun powder just about to be blown, it’s called the “Vedikettu”. The crackers (like Bombs) were lighted and something was just on its way for us… I have never experienced something like that, within minutes the crackers blew up without any break and it was like, we were in some war field.. The energy released was so huge that you can feel it in your hearts…Boom! I hid within the crowd and once it was over I could hear only a TTTT….. echo, all my hearing capacities had gone somewhere else.
We could see more elephants coming in and the Pooram was going continuous with more Panchavadyam, Pacharimelam and Pandimelam playing their best possible beats and rhythms. After the bomb episode, it was time for us to slowly go back home. We left with some of the best experiences of the Arattupuzha Pooram.
Written by Benjamin John