Pooram is an annual festival, which is celebrated in temples dedicated to goddesses Durga or Kali held especially in Valluvanadu area and other adjoining parts of north-central Kerala (Palakkad, Thrissur and Malappuram districts) after the summer harvest. Of all the Poorams held the biggest is the one which is held in Thrissur.
Every year on the Pooram day , the day when the moon rises with the Pooram star in the Malayalam Calendar month of Medam witnesses the largest temple fest in Kerala, the Thrissur Pooram.
According to the legend Thrissur Pooram is the brain child of Raja Rama Varma or famously known as Sakthan Thampuran, the Maharaja of Cochin. It was said that before Thrissur Pooram the largest temple fesitival was the one-day festival held at Aarattupuzha knows as Arattupuzha Pooram. Temples in and around City of Thrissur were regular participants. One day because of incessant rains, they were late for the Arattupuzha Pooram and were denied access to the Pooram procession. Felt embarrassed by this , they complained to Sakthan Thampuran.So in 1798, he unified the 10 temples situated around Vadakkunnathan Temple and organised the celebration of Thrissur Pooram as a mass festival. He invited temples with their deities to City of Thrissur to pay obeisance to Lord Vadakkunnathan, the presiding deity of the Vadakkunnathan Temple.
Sakthan Thampuran ordained the temples into two groups, namely “Paramekkavu side” (eastern side) and “Thiruvambady side”(western side). These are headed by the principal participants, Paramekkavu Bagavathi Temple at Thrissur Swaraj Round and Thiruvambadi Sri Krishna Temple at Shoranur road. The two temples are hardly 500 metres apart.The Thiruvambadi side has temples such as, Thiruvambadi Sri Krishna Temple, Kanimangalam Sastha Temple, Laloor Bhagavathy Temple, Sree Karthyayani Temple at Ayyanthole, Nethilakkavu Baghavathy Temple.While the eastern side has Paramekkavu Bagavathi Temple, Chembukkavu Bhagavathy Temple, Panamukkumpally Sastha Temple, Choorakkottukavu Bhagavathy Temple, Pookattikkara – Karamukku Baghavathy Temple.
The Pooram is centered on the Vadakkunnathan Temple, with all these temples sending their processions to pay obeisance to the Shiva, the presiding deity. The Thampuran is believed to have chalked out the program and the main events of the Thrissur Pooram festival.
The celebrations go on for seven days beginning with flag-hoisting on the first day, firework display or Sample Vedikettu on the fourth day and elephant decoration displays on the fourth and fifth days. On the seventh day, which is the day of the pooram, the participating temple officials dress up in traditional attire and carry out processions flanked by drum players and dancers. At the Vadakkunathan temple, artists perform in large numbers and more than 50 elephants decorated with ornaments, caparisons, holy bells and colorful umbrellas are cheered on by devotees. Finally, the umbrellas are exchanged on top of elephants and a final round of fireworks brings a close to the celebrations.
The best aspect of the Thrissur pooram is its secular nature. Different religious communities participate in this festival in their own capacity. The Muslim community take charge of the craft work of the pandals while the members of the Churches provide cloth of the umbrellas.