This might be one of the first questions anyone might ask on seeing the spectacle, let me correct myself, the phenomenon, known as Thrissur pooram. On this day, all roads lead to Thrissur round where the grandest of all grand Kerala festivals is being held. For those who need to get a basic understanding of Thrissur pooram, do check out here and here.
The whole of Thrissur round on pooram day is a giant conglomeration of people, moving around like a lost amoeba. Actually, all the people, especially the ones from Thrissur, love the elephants and they faithfully follow the pachyderm during the festivity, irrespective of the crowd around them. As a result, you are stuck in the giant ectoplasm which takes you for a ride around the festivity.
All stories apart, now let the images speak.
Pre Scriptum: This is going to be a pretty long series, not my fault, the pooram festivities are that long and elaborate.
This is an introductory image. Let me narrate the whole thing as I saw it.
By the way, these are one of the many sets of elephants who are caparisoned and embellished with colourful umbrellas and other things for the festival.
These are the embellishments these giants come with on pooram day.
I think you can get a vague idea of the massive number of Homo sapiens present there from this image.
You might be wondering what these many people are doing, crowding each other to suffocation. There is entertainment arranged for everyone in the from of the famous Panchavadyam ( music from 5 instruments ) at the Elanjithara ( the foot of the Elanji tree )which gets the adrenaline pumping from the crowd. The people who play the instruments stand in front of the elephants and the accustomed pachyderms also sway gently to the vibrant beats.
All these continue into the next bit of the pooram, the ceremony and competition called Kudamattom (The changing of the umbrellas ). Two rows of elephants stand face to face, about 100 metres apart (not to forget the masses occupying every possible inch of the ground between them) and change their main umbrellas, with the crowd cheering wildly for each change. It is a competition between the two major temples participating in the festival and they come up with innovative ideas for umbrellas. Apparently there were umbrellas made of ballons this year, which, unfortunately I could not witness. But this set of images will give you some idea of the ceremony.
Here you can see them holding one set of umbrellas and other decorations while the next set of umbrellas are being held ready by assistants behind.
Presto! they are ready (well almost).
Think of the callistenics involved in this exercise. The magnitude of this can be estimated from the fact that they change umbrellas almost every ten minutes for a whopping three hours.
The elephants continue parading round the Thrissur round during the day
and night, accompanied by men of the law,
men of light and
men of music. It is elementary that women are seen far and few in between in this, solely due to security reasons.
The festivities conclude with a massive display of fireworks, on and off the ground . The ones on terra firma set the atmosphere in motion and you can feel the blasts of air shake everything around you .
The 24 hours of the pooram was a real phenomenal and eye-opening experience for me. I can truly say that this magnificent force of nature will leave people enthralled, thrilled and scintillated for a reasonable part of their lives and that may be the reason why they come, every year, to bear witness.