Festivals

Pious Pachyderms:The Thrissur Pooram Festival

The Thrissur pooram festival is regarded as the biggest festival and attracts a large number of tourists from India and abroad every year. The festival  is famous for elephants decorated with golden 'thalapattam' i.e. golden plates covering the entire portion from head to trunk which is a specialty in Kerala. About ninety elephants assemble in the temple. In old days rich landlords used to gift elephants to temples called 'nadayiruthal'. Even now, the Guiruvayoor Devawam is said to have a herd of forty one elephants. 

Elephant and Kerala are indivisibly related. Kerala must be the only place where a statue has been erected in the memory of an elephant, Guruvayoor Kesavan, who served the presiding deity of Guruvayoor for several decades. To add more an elephant race is conducted every year at Guruvayoor.

Temples are very large in number in Kerala and no festival in the temples is complete without an elephant. It is a great delight to see the pachyderms standing majestically with men on its back holding 'kodai' (umbrellas) waving 'venchamarams' and 'alavattams' and crescendo of panchavadyam' which goes on uninterrupted in front. Mounting on an elephant and sitting on its back for hours together calls for tremendous patience and stamina. 

The Thrissur pooram festival which is regarded as the biggest festival which attracts a large number of tourists from India and abroad every year is famous for elephants decorated with golden 'thalapattam' i.e. golden plates covering the entire portion from head to trunk which is a specialty in Kerala. About ninety elephants assemble in the temple. In those days rich landlords used to gift elephants to temples called 'nadayiruthal'. Even now, the Guiruvayoor Devawam is said to have a herd of forty one elephants. 

Its a wonder since Keralites treat elephants as domestic animal and give them human names. Stories about elephants having children in distress and their own master or mahouts from impending dangers. During off seasons elephants are put to work in timber depots.

The tusker's tail is said to protect one from evil spirits if worn in a golden ring. "Anapindam" i.e. elephant droppings is said to possess a medicinal effect for arthritis. 

It is described by many that, "a jumbo dead or alive is equally valued." In olden-day wars of the four types of armies also called 'chaturangasena' the Aana Pada (elephant army) was said to be the most advanced. A poem in Malayalam on "the sorrow of a mahout", on the death of his long time companion is an apt tribute paid to a tusker and a testimony of Malayalees' affirmation to the elephant.

17-Aug-2000

More by :  Sujata Iyer

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