Pooram is considered as one of the biggest temple festivals in Kerala. Arattupuzha Pooram is known as the mother of all Poorams in Kerala. The Arattupuzha temple is very famous where this pooram is celebrated. Arattupuzha is located in the district of Thrissur. This temple is around 15 km from Thrissur town. This temple is dedicated to God Sastha or Ayyappa. This pooram is also known as the greatest festival of Gods on the earth. Arattupuzha Pooram is the oldest festival in India. This temple is around 3000 years old as per our history. Arattupuzha festival will give you a spectacular visual experience of Kerala’s temple festivals. The festival is held for seven days, usually in the month of March or April.
The devotees believe that during the festival of Arattupuzha temple, other gods and goddess near to the temple visit Lord Sastha of Arattupuzha. The festival is so big that not only in Arattupuzha temple but also nearby temples also celebrates this festival in the same mood. You could see many devotees coming to the Sastha temple during the festive days to pray and for offerings. You could see people coming from all over Kerala and the whole temple ground will be crowded with devotees. The temple has the facility to maintain a huge crowd because of its management’s efficiency.
The festival actually starts with Thiruvathira Purappad in which Sastha will be taken out with help of five elephants. After the function, it will be taken to the Thaikkattusery temple to celebrate the pooram there. Then, there is an elephant race which is held at the Peedikaparmbu temple which will be witnessed by the Sastha and will go back to the Arattupuzha. After that Sastha attends the Thottipal Pooram just before the Arattupuzha Pooram. On the day of Pooram, Sastha comes out of the temple accompanied by fifteen elephants and receives the idols from the different temples at the Divine Durbar that come to participate in the Pooram.
Photo by vinod kannery
In the seven-day festival, the last two days are actually the most important festive days. Sasthavinte Melam is a function which is held on the eve of the final day, where you can witness a huge number of elephants with all their decorations standing in front of percussion and lamps. You can see around 60 to 70 elephants attending the festival, so as per the number of elephants participating in one festival this will be the biggest festival. Sasthavinte melam is celebrated by everyone in and around the village, so the whole place will be decorated and lit up. One point to note is that they decorate the temple and the vicinity with traditional lighting and don’t put anything that can affect the ecosystem adversely. You can see Theevetti, which is a lamp with flame in front of the decorated elephants.
Photo by Trilok Rangan
There will be Pacharimelam, Panchavadyam, and Pandimelam that are local percussion to bring the rhythmic mood to the devotees. While the Elephants enjoy their coconut leaves the spectators to enjoy the spectacular visuals that unveil in front of them with colorful umbrellas and venchamaram (white cotton fan) that move in tune with the rhythm of melams. There will be 23 idols coming from different temples carried by the elephants to participate in the festivity.
Photo by Dr Vipin Challiyil
These elephants along with 50 other elephants will be lined up in the nearby paddy fields accompanied by Pancharimelam. It is a feast for your eyes and ears which no one should miss in their lifetime. The rhythm continues through the night until the next day morning. These elephants will be taken to the river for the ceremony of Arattu or the sacred bathing. There you can see all idols take a dip with the background of manthras, poojas, and flowers. The last dip will be taken by the Sastha of Arattupuzha temple.
The Arattupuzha Pooram takes place during the night. After the pooram, Sastha will be put down at Nilapaaduthara. The Arattupuzha festival concludes when Sastha comes out and sees off all the deities.
Featured Photo by Haridas Pangayil1