Every year in the South Indian State of Kerala in the town of Thrissur, the Elephant Festival takes place. Starting in early May and dating back over 200 years, the festival begins in the Vadakkunnathan Temple and over the course of the day spreads out to ten temples across the region which are:
- The Thiruvambadi Sri Krishna Temple
- The Laloor Bhagavathy Temple
- The Neithilakkavu Bhagavathy Temple
- The Kanimangalam Sastha Temple
- The Sree Karthyayani Temple
- The Paramekkavu Bagavathi Temple
- The Panamukkumpally Sastha Temple
- The Pookkattikkara – Karamukku Baghavathy Temple
- The Chembukkavu Bhagavathy Temple
- The Choorakkottukavu Bhagavathy Temple
The celebrations begin a week before the Pooram, or the day the Moon rises with the Pooram Star, and sees a ceremonial flag hoisting at each temple as well as flag hoistings in Naduvilal and Naikkanal in Thrissur City. On the fourth day, fireworks are let off in Sample Vedikettu, it typically begins around 7:15pm and utilizes a vast array of beautiful patterns and configurations. On the fifth day, several decorations made by the nearby areas are set up consisting of Golden Elephants (Nettipattam), Elephant Accountrements (Chamayam), Fans made from peacock feathers (Aalavattom) the royal fan (Venchamarom) and a diverse amount of decorative umbrellas and sacred bells.
The sixth day sees the main bulk of the celebrations as members of various nearby temples enter the main Vadakkunnathan Temple and leave, each way that the temple must be entered and left depends entirely on the temple originated from. During this time music is played and drums are beaten as songs are sung to celebrate the unity of differing beliefs, elephants take center stage here as they are ridden through the area. On the seventh day the main bulk of the fireworks are released at 3am in Swaraj Round in Thrissur City, these go on until 6am. At the same time, various idols are taken from the fireworks ceremony to be placed back in their respective temples, then, as quickly as it began, another fireworks ceremony takes place to celebrate the end of the event.
The festival was started in 1798 when the Sakthan Thampuran, or the ruler of the area, took pity on the peoples around Thrissur for their difficulty in attending the festival and so he united all of the temples around Vadakkunnathan Temple and organized the first Thrissur Pooram, inviting all temples of varying deities to join them in celebration in their temple each year.
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