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  This year Thrissur Pooram Falls on: MAY 3rd Sunday 2009, Kodiyettam: APRIL 28th Tuesday 2009.
 

 

The Extraordinary Spectacle
Life in Kerala is punctuated by the annual festivals dedicated to village deities. These post-harvest festivals are a celebration of plenty and fertility, and an occasion to break out of the monotony of daily routine. The size and import of these festivals are small family gatherings, other encompass the whole village or a region. For instance, Poorams like Thrissur and Arattupuzha are in comparable with regards to their scale and participation, both of Gods and humans.

The Thrissur Pooram, celebrated in the Malayalam month Of Medom (April-May) is a grand assembly of Gods and Goddesses from various villages and towns in and around Thrissur. These Gods and Goddesses make their annual visit to the Vadakkumnathan Temple premises on caparisoned elephants accompanied by grand ensembles of Chenda melam and pancha vadyam.

The Ten participants of the Pooram are the Thiruvambadi Bagavathy and Paramekkavu Bagavathy, Nethilakkavu Bagavathy, Karamukku Baghavathy, Ayyanthole Bagavathy, Laloor Baghavathy, Choorakkattukavu Bagavathy, Chembukkavu Bagavathy, Panamukkumpally Sastha, Kanimangalam Sasthavu. The processions and rituals of each of these deities follow a very strict itinerary, scheduled in such a way that the tempo of the Pooram celebrations is maintained without any loss of energy.

The movements of these Gods mounted on elephants are majestic affairs that punctuate the festive tempo of this festival. Each year these temples vie with each other in all areas of the Pooram the size and majesty of the elephants, the melams or percussion ensembles – both Chenda melam and pancha vadyam, the elaborate caparisons and adornments of the pachyderms, the firework displays, and the grand spectacle called ‘kudamattam’ or display of parasols atop the elephants.

The Trichur Pooram Exhibition, one of the biggest Trade Fairs in the region, is another major attraction of the Pooram. Mounted near the eastern gateway of the Vadakkumnathan temple, it is an all-India exhibition that generates significant revenue for the Pooram organisers. This exhibition begins a month in advance, and attracts huge crowds every year. It showcases pavilions and stalls of major commercial, industrial and entertainment houses in the country. The first exhibition was organized in 1933, and from 1964 onwards, the Exhibition was organized by the Thiruvambadi and Paramekkavu temples.

One of the new openings is the pooram exhibition. The Exhibition conducted during the pooram season to cater to the needs of visitor s and tourists was started in the vicinity of Thekinkadu. Then the Thrissur Municipality entrusted Y.M.C.A to run it in the year 05 to Y.M.C.A. and afterwards to the stadium committee. In the 1963-64 the two groups of temples starts an agitation against the municipality for allowing them to run the exhibition to meet the expenses of Thrissur Pooram. In this year these 9 temples joined together and refused to stage their respective poorams in support of their demand and staged with one elephant just only to meet basic temple rituals. Stoppage of the traditional festival hurt the feelings of devotees, traders, artists artisans and people of all walks of life, Tourist Development Corporation, Thrissur Municipality, Panchayath and Government in General. They started negotiations with these 9 temples, through their office bearers and ascertained from them the hardships experienced by them for the conduct of the Pooram. Ultimately Thrissur Municipality considered the demand of pooram “Nadathippukar” as just and genuine and the demand of the 9 temples and the right to conduct the pooram exhibition was handed over to Pooram Exhibition Committee from Municipal Stadium Committee.

They started with 3 elephants and this year they celebrated with 7 elephants. The exhibition profit could be used exclusively for conducting Thrissur Pooram Festival but unfortunately this was diverted for other purpose and only a part of it is used for Thrissur Pooram Festival . this is against the principle of “philanthropic Purpose”. At the same time the Constituent Poorams of 8 temples find it very difficult to celebrate their festival with pomp and decorum as the office bearers of these temples feel hardship and financial difficulty. Under these circumstances the 8 temples put-up their demand for participations in the exhibition committee and equal share from the funds generated from it .in the changing time, all over Kerala there is a tendency to celebrate all temple festivals in a much more colorful fashion than the olden times by spending large some of money.

Thrissur Pooram is a festival unique in its pageantry, magnitude and participation. It is not a mere temple festival in its strict sense but at the same time it is the festival of festivals of Kerala. Thrissur the cultural capital of Kerala State and former princely state of Cochin is the venue for the festival during the month of April-May every year large number of people consisting of children, young and old, male and female accompany their temple deities from all the participatory temples in and around Thrissur and its suburbs to the Thekinkadu Maidan for the Pooram.

The people participate in the festivities with complete devotion to their temples and accompany their respective poorams along with Nadapandi and Nadaswaram and the caparisoned elephants carrying their temple deities to Vadakkumnatha Kshethra Maidan.

The venue of Thrissur Pooram , with pride. The venue “Pooraparambu” (belongs to Lord Vadakkumnathan. It is historical venue where all the participating temples numbering ten, wit equal rights and dignity form an in separable part of Thrissur Pooram. Vadakkumnathan who is considered the supreme God is at this instance the eleventh God and also the Host in this “Mamakam”. The gathering of gods and goddesses in his assembly in Thrissur town is the reason for the huge gathering of people from all around the world. The Pooram begins at 6 a. m. with the staging of poorams of Kanimangalam Sasthavu the “Grama Rakshakan” and followed by the arrival of Panamukkampilly Sathavu, Kramukku Karthiyani Devi, Laloor Karthiayani Devi, Choorakkottukavu Durga Devi, Ayyanthole Karthiayani Devi, Naithalakavu Bhagavathi and Chembookavu Karthiayani Devi.

This is followed by the “Madathilvaravu” of Thiruvambady Bhagavathi, “Elinjithara Melam” of Paramekkavu Bhagavathi. Kudamattam of Paramekkavu and Thiruvambady Poorams are staged in between 6 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. in the vicinity of the south Gopuram. The kudamattam or the changing of umbrella of festivity.

This is the tradition of Thrissur Pooram and it has become absolutely essential that in the features all temples poorams must introduce new attractions for variety and to amalgamate other forms of drums and music from other parts of the country. The large number of beautifully caparisoned elephants with multi coloured parasols accompanies by “Panchavadyam” and Pandimelam (Temple instrumental music) and fire works are the main attractions of the Festival. Presently the festival lasts for a continues period of 36 hours. After the advent of modern media, its fame has reached all over India and beyond its boundaries, attracting people to flock to Thrissur town to have a glimpse of the pageantry. It is not only Hindus who participate in this festival. Literally Thrissur Town converted into an ocean of humanity of all colour, caste and creed. All houses, shops, temple gopurams are colorfully decorated and illuminated.

HISTORY:-

It was during the time of “Yogadhiripadu” popularly known as the Chief Poojari of Vadakkumnathan temple and Kuttanellur Naduvazhi, the 15 pooram were brought back to Thrissur from Arattupuzha Pooram.

This was during the time of Ramavarma Raja popularly known as “Sakthan Thampuran”, the distinguished ruler of erstwhile princely state of Cochin (1790-1805). The Pooram festival in its present form reorganized at Thrissur.

Two hundred years ago the Thrissur Pooram was conducted under the aegis of two Naduvazhies. They were Thrissur Naduvazhi (Yogadiripad) and Kuttanellur Naduvazhi. Later due to some reasons the Kuttanellur Naduvazhi disassociated himself from the conduct of joint celebration at Thrissur. Since the withdrawal of Kuttanellur Naduvazhi the glamour of the pooram was lost and rivalry between the subject of two Naduvazhies’ began to treat each other as enemies. It was in that juncture the former ruler of Cochin His Highness Ramavarma Raja, popularly known as Sakthan Thampuran(1755-1805 A.D) became the Maharaja of Cochin. Sakthan thampuran wanted to strengthen his state and unity of the people. At that time temples were under the control of Yogadiripad as part of his policy of integration, and for harmony amongst people and to discontinue the institution of Yogadiripad (the religious Head) of the major temples of Thrissur and part of tripping the power of Brahmins clergy in all the temples, it will taken over by the state. That was the end of the Brahmaswam and the Devaswom (state)started ruling temples.

Thereafter His Highness Ramavarma Raja i.e. Sakthan Thampuran unified the 10
Temples situated around Vadakkummnathan temple at Thrissur and took steps to celebrate Thrissur Pooram as a mass festival.

Before the formation of Kerala state the entire expenses for the conduct of Pooram was met by the Cochin state. The state allotted necessary funds to all the temples for pooram celebrations.

Sakthan Thampuran ordained two groups western group and Eastern group. He named western group as Thiruvambady consisting of Kanimangalam, Laloor, Ayyanthole, Naithalakavu and Thiruvambady temple (a private devaswom temple). The eastern side called as Paramekkavu side in addition to Paramekavu temple (a private devaswom temple ) Karamukku, Chembukavu. Choorakottukavu and Panamukkamppilly. The Maharaja re - organized the annual festival in its present form in front of Vadakkumnathan. The festival is a congregation of various temple deities in Vadakkumnathan temple premises. These temples situates in Thrissur Corporation covering about 16 square kilometers. These 10 poorams are allotted separate timings for the conducting of their poorams by huge gathering of devotees with festivities, dancing with joy and pride with caparisoned elephants, “Nadapandi, “Nadaswaram and Pandimelam” with colourful fire works and 1 pradakshina of Vadakkumnathan. During ancient times Thrissur Pooram used to be celebrated with the full involvement of devotees with their physical involvement and voluntary services. The financial obligations were very little due to the availability of large number of artists and artisans in these activities connected with pooram festivals has to be maintained with the help of paid artists and artisans etc., resulting in large expenditure which used to be beyond their capability .to make pooram more colourful and attractive and also to develop it should be enlarged by adding salient features. The expenditure for arranging fireworks, accompaniments and other accessories, hiring of beautiful elephants, artists for melam, panchavadyam for 8days goes into lakhs and lakhs of rupees. As in older times the meager donations from the Thattakams is not sufficient to meet the huge expenses. During the time of Maharajas large scale contribution were given to communities to conduct pooram with great pomp and show. This help was also stopped and government is not helping Thrissur Pooram Celebration Committee. In this circumstance luckily some new avenues have opened up to facilitate funds for the conduct of pooram with its old pomp and show beautifully and seriously.
 

The rituals in connection with Pooram of all temples are more or less same and there will be slight difference depending on which side the deity is facing.

KODIYETTAM

The Kodiyettam or flag hoisting ceremony is conducted by three different modalities, One as “Dhwajadi” 2)”Anguradi” 3)”Padahadi”. Of all "Padahadhy" is the the oldest form and more liberal. Flag hoisting is done with out any tantric rituals. The post is to be fixed after the Valiya Balikallu and in between outside "Balivattom" &  "Ana kottil". The length of the flag post should be less than the distance between valiya balikallu and nalambalam. The length of the flag stick should be less than the length of fins of nalambalam. The stick should point towards north. The surface of the areca nut tree should be chipped in eight sides. The post should be decorated with Darba, mango leaves & banyan tree leaves in odd times.


UTSAVABALI

this ritual in connection with the celebrations. Right from the day of Kodiyettam to the last day " Bali" is performed with strict discipline. There are specific spots marked with "Balikallu" round the shrine and outside the nalambalam. The thidambu (the replica of deity ) is taken out from the shrine with special vadhya called "Valiyapani" The ritual is pouring "havis" (rice with flowers etc) in the places marked and some unmarked spaces .


Bali is the offering to both natural and supernatural powers both good and bad with respective mantras.

AARATTU

The Thidambu is taken out to the kadavu ( Special place in the temple pond) accompanied by drums etc .After pooja the thantri immerses the thidambu in the water. After this the thidambu will be applied with cosmetics like sandal water, rosewater & turmeric. With new dress (PAATTU) and short pooja & offerings deity will be taken back to temple. This is a daily routine during the 8 days.


POORAPARA

The festivals in Kerala is related to harvest. During the 8 days of pooram the thattakam (domain of influence) will be in festive mood. All the houses will be painted and decorated. The streets will be cleaned and illuminated. The god will travel along the streets with all pomp and show and devotees will offer paddy, fruits etc. The concept is the presiding deity of the place is personally verifying the well being of the devotees and if there is any complaints it will be solved before pooram.


GRAMABALI

The bali is performed after the night rituals in the temple on the day of kodikuthu. It is believed that holy sprits are stationed at entry points to domain, certain trees, around other temples, ponds etc. The chief priest and thanthri presents the offerings at these points in the presence of the deity who is traveling along with. This is nearly an extinct ritual due to the vast area to be covered.

KODIKUTTHU

This the last program of pooram festival. After the holy dip in the temple pond goddess travel back to temple. In between arattukadavu and the flag the kodikalpooram is conducted .After the pooram the elephant which is honored to carry the thidambu pulls down the flag with post. After the sree boothabali the goddesses enter to the sanctum sanctorum and with "Uttram pattu" the god take rest.

 

Apart from the principal deities of the Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi, eight other temple deities participate in the Thrissur Pooram: six Goddesses and two from temples dedicated o Lord Sastha. They are the Kanimangalam and Panakkampilli Sasthas, and the Bhagavathis from Pukkatikara, Choorakotukavu, Laloor, Naithilakavu, Ayyanthole and Chembukavu. The Kanimangalam Sastha is the first God " - who is the incarnation of "Brahspathi"  (Deva Guru)" - which is the premier pooram entering Sree Vadakkumnathan.

It is interesting to note that only SASTHA & DEVI are participating in the pooram , may be because of Dravidian influence prevailed that time. There is four nos of siva temples, four nos of durga temples and four nos of large ponds are situated at nearly equidistant from the Sree vadakunnatha temple, the silent spectator of the pooram. Siva temple are "Erattachira –South, Chirakkal- west Asokeswaram –North& Midhunapilly –east. Durga temples are Pookkattikkara – karakukku, Chiyyaram-South, Laloor south west, Ayyanthole, North west Chembookavu - Northeast.

 

Pooram originally denotes the nakshatram or star of the Malayalam month in which the festival is celebrated. It was on pooram days that temples in Central Kerala held their annual festivals honouring their deity with processions of caparisoned elephants and percussion ensembles.

Pooram festival season begins in November and extends up to May. Although there are hundreds of pooram festivals in this season, the most important one is the Thrissur pooram which is celebrated on the Pooram Day of Medom Month of the Malayalam Era (mid-April to mid-May).

Another Pooram of similar significance is the Arattupuzha Pooram which falls on the Pooram Day in the previous Malayalam Month of Meenam.

Pooram festivals are also conducted on other days of the month all over Kerala, the unifying factor being the small processional image of the deity, called the thidambu, which is placed at the base of a golden shield-like kolam, which is mounted atop the tallest male tusker and flanked by other elephants. Though the minimum number of elephants will be three, in the bigger festivals it can be as many as twenty-one or more.

 

The Thrissur Pooram is considered to be the Mother of all Poorams, a culture highlight that towers above all others.

There are several stories behind the origin of the Thrissur Pooram. Before the advent of the Thrissur Pooram, the largest temple festival in central Kerala was the one-day Pooram festival held at Arattupuzha, 12 km south of the town. Arattupuzha Pooram has a recorded history of over 1400 years, and it is said that the temples in and around Thrissur where regular participants at this grand Pooram, described as ‘Deva Sangamam’ (The Grand Assembly of Gods). According to certain sources, once some of these details where denied entry by the chief of the Peruvanam area of Cherpu, known for its Namboodiri Brahmin supremacy. As an act of reprisal and also in a bid to assuage their wounded feelings, Sakthan Thampuran, the then ruler of Cochin State invited all these temples to bring their deities to Thrissur where they could pay obeisance to Lord Vadakunnathan. He also directed the main temples of Thrissur, the Thiruvambaday and Paramekkavu temples, to extend all help and support to these temples. He also believed to be the brain behind the grand orchestration of the whole Pooram the arrival, circumambulation and exit of varies deities etc - enacted in the sprawling Thekkinkadu grounds.

According to scholars, it is this historical background that determined the course of the Pooram festival –the ruler’s antipathy to the Brahmin aristocracy specifically being the cause of the overwhelming involvement of common man in Thrissur Pooram. In this it is very different from most temple festivals, since it is not only celebrated and conducted by the people from the surrounding locality but cuts cross all the manmade barriers of religion and caste.

According to other sources, years ago, massive floods prevented the deities of Thrissur from participating in Arattupuzha Pooram. Later, some of the deities, for various reasons, began to celebrate their own independent festivals in honour of the local deities. Soon afterward, Sakthan Thampuran, who had by then cleared the thick forests that surrounded the Vadakkumnathan temple, decided to honour the city with a grand festival, there by starting a unique annual spectacle.

 

vadhya kala 

Written like a travel guide

The theoretical knowledge will not help to understand and enjoy this complicated art form. The performing art of Kerala is a combination of mathematics and classical music. This is the total symphony of the different sounds produced by entirely different type of instruments, strictly following raga & thala.  So it should be approached delicately as watching an oil painting .Keep a distance, or you will be disturbed by the patches of the brush. The variations in "surthy" from various instruments will be multifold in a closer scrutiny.

Few tips

Thalam: Technically thalam is the division of time.

Thalavattam: is the prescribed time(Say speed) to complete the cycle.

Kalam: The variation in speed to complete the assigned job.

Aksharakalam: To understand the structure of thalam, the time should be defined and it is aksharakalam.( nearly one second) The concept "Thalam" is believed to be "God given" through "Vedas" as retold by "Rishies" (Saints). Lord Siva is always carrying a musical instrument called "Damaru" which can be equated to modern "Chenda", "Madhalam" "Thimila" and "Edakka". The former instruments can easily produce the Premier word of Hinduism "AUM" while the Edakka can pronounce vocal music. In a music concert or in a dance the roles played by instruments are complementary or supplementary but in talavadyangal they are independent.

The artists: Most of the practicing artists in this field are from Marar/Poduval families, a division of Hindu Nair community. Carrying the instrument in one shoulder and the compensation in the form of paddy in a gunny bag in the other shoulder was the picture of theses artists  of late forties. Now the scenario has changed and the artists are well rewarded in all respect. Taught and practiced by "Guru Kula style" each and every artist have a status which is strictly followed by virtue of the artists talent, skill, and  interpretation and not by age.

The Conductor: The senior most artist in Pramanvadhya ( Leading instrument) the conductor of the ensemble. Pramani as the conductor is called will communicate through his body language only. The artist in the right side will receive the instruction from the chief and convey to next artist in the right side in the same manner. The same procedure will follow in the left side also. The chief will supervise the whole performance periodically by turning left, right and to back.

 

PANCHAVADYAM: This is a most popular art form in Kerala. Panchavadyam has undergone drastic changes-revolutionary, adorable- during last 80 years in every respect.  

Instruments :Thimila ,Madhalam, Edakka, Kombu, Elathalam & Sanghu.

Pramanvadhya ( Leading instrument): Thimila.

The Arrangements: The no of artists varies from 12 to 54 or 55 depending on various factors like duration, place, type etc. The proportion is to every Madhalam, there should be double + one "Thimila" and  for every Thimila there should be equal nos of "Kombu"& "Elathalam". One "Edakka" is essential. For larger no: of artists the no: of  "Edakka" may vary from 2 to 3. The grouping of the artists and hierarchy is strictly followed      

Elathalam Elathalam Elathalam Elathalam Elathalam Elathalam
Thimila Thimila Thimila Thimila Thimila Thimila Thimila
  Sanku
  Edakka
Madhalam Madhalam Madhalam
Kombu Kombu Kombu Kombu Kombu Kombu Kombu

Order: the chief of each instrument will stand in the center and the next one in the right side third one in the left. "Edakka" will be stationed at right-hand side of the "Madhalam" If there is second  "Edakka" it will be positioned at left hand side. "Sanghu" will be at right hand side of the right Edakka.

The vadhyam: The ensemble starts with "Sanghu" which produces the sound "AUM" twice and on 3/4th  way through the third "AUM" "Thimila" and other instruments except   "Kombu" reproduces the same "AUM". Pyramidal in its rhythmic structure the Panchavadyam is divided in 10 "kalams" Starting from 896 "aksharakalam" as 1st "kalam" ending at 1¾ "aksharakalam" as the 10th "kalam" is the format of "panchavadhyam". However theses 10 "Kalams" are grouped to 3 as Slow or "Pathikala" 1,2&3 "Madhya" (intermittence kalam) with 4,5&6 and "Drutha kala" - Speedy kala - with 7,8,9&10. It will take 14 to 15 minutes to complete first kalam. Here the chief will decide from which kalam the ensemble should start. The criteria is the duration allowed. Long vadhyas will start from 1stkalam or 2nd and short from 3rd or 4th. Even though the talam followed is adantha the influence of chempda will be there up to last few "Kalams". Starting from the slow, and lengthy paces the vadhyam reaches to short, speedy " thripuda" ( the thrilling pace of the ensemble)and ends in an explosion of sound. To end this shower of sound there is an exciting piece of art called "Thimila Edachil". Performed in Chempada thalam by few Thimilas and supported by elathalams it is an excellent mixture of skill, speed and sound.  

Maestros in the field (Past& Present-not in order) 

Annamanada Parmeswara Marar & Peethabhara marar, Thiruvillamala Venkideswara Ayer(Venkichen Swamy), Punnathur Madhavan Nair, Pallavoor Maniyan, PattararathSankaramarar, Machad Nanu Nair, Kuzoor Narayana Marar, Kadavalloor Aravindakshan, Chottanikkara Narayanan & Vijayan, Kalamandalam Parameswaran, Thrikkur Rajan, parakkat thankappan etc.

Chenda Melangal:  is the most popular and widely acclaimed keshtra vadhyas of Kerala. More than 300 years old melam is an integral part of all festivals in Kerala irrespective of cast or religion. The most important among these melams are "Pandy" (Splendid &Majestic) and "Panchari" (sweet & pleasing) which may extent up to 5 hours. The leading instrument is "Chenda", Kerala's own instrument.   The Chenda is divided into  "Valamthala Chenda & Edamthala Chenda" (right & left side of the instrument) or  "Veekam Chenda" & "Uruttu Chenda". The covering is soft in Edamthala but in layers in Valamthala.

 Chenda can produce multiple vadhyas the "Devavadya" using "Valamthala" and Asura vadhyas through "Edamthala". With infinite range & magnificent sound  "Chenda" is above all 18 instruments.

 

Chempada Melangal: Generally there are 7 types of melangal viz: Panchari, Champa, Chempada, Adantha, Anchadatha, Druvam and Pandy.  The earlier 6 melams are called " Chempada melangal" and they are one way or other closely associated and the model is the premier one "Panchari". Of all "Pandy" stands distinctive.  Two more melams, "Navam" & "Kalpam" were developed by a Maestro in the field Sri Kumarapuram Appu marar.

There are  few artists to perform  all these melangal at an  equal ease with total dedication, interpretation, meditation, skill & talent.

Some of the past and present are : Pallavoor Appu Marar, Thripekulam Achuta marar, Chakkumkulam Appu Marar, Kachamkurichikannan,Kelath Aravindakshan, Pervanam Kuttan, Mattannur Sankarankutty ( with out any prejudice or order)

Instruments :Chenda, Kurumkuzal, Kombu, Elathalam .

Pramanavadhya (Leading instrument): Uruttu Chenda

Role of each instrument in general:

"Uruttu Chenda"- To lead the orchestra.

 "Veekam Chenda"- to keep the thalam

"Elathalam" – To support the Veekam Chenda

"Kombu & Kuramkuzal" To keep the orchestra with in the prescribed limits and to blend & balance.

The melangal are performed in a tight format without any compromise and each and every instruments has equally important role to perform and the conductor will see that all are in tune &time with one another.

The no: of artists: Kurumkuzal & Kombu may be in equal numbers with "Uruttu Chanda", Elathalam must be in double and "Veekam Chenda" should be triple the numbers of "Uruttu Chenda". The ratio of  "Veekam" to "Uruttu" may be 1:6 for magnificence.

The Arrangement:

Kombu Kombu Kombu Kombu Kombu Kombu Kombu
Kurum Kuzhal Kurum Kuzhal Kurum Kuzhal Kurum Kuzhal Kurum Kuzhal Kurum Kuzhal Kurum Kuzhal
Chenda Chenda Chenda Chenda Chenda Chenda Chenda
Elathalam Veekum Chenda Elathalam Veekum Chenda Elathalam Veekum Chenda Elathalam Veekum Chenda Elathalam Veekum Chenda Elathalam Veekum Chenda Elathalam Veekum Chenda Elathalam Veekum Chenda Elathalam  Veekum Chenda

The positions are arranged such way that to have a direct interaction between the artists. "Kurumkuzal" is holding the wand supported by the "Kombu" so both these artists must have direct Eye contact with the Leader.

Common features : All these Chendamelangal have common  Features like same instruments are used, positions and duties are same .Performed in ever increasing tempo and the proportionally decreasing number of beats in the cycle. The role of the "Pramani" and the hierarchy are identical in vadhayam & melam.

 

PANCHARI: Performing on Chenda with one stick and hand (R&L) is the simple identification of this form. Divided into 3 steps in 5 "Kalams" the concert starts at 96  "aksharakalam" and ends at 6 "aksharakalam". The 3 steps are classified through the mode of using the stick. The first one "Nerkol" ( slow) is beating directly perpendicular to the surface of Chenda. On to second step both beats are in swinging mode with  a slight inclination. The second stage is called "Thakkida" (Normal)and third as "Kuzamarinja" kalam (Fast)step. The wrist of the hand will fully rotate in the third.  "Kalamidal" ( take off) is the foundation of Panchari and the blue print will be ready after the "12th  chempada vattam" (Aksharakalam" divided by 8 is one chempada vattam). The melam starts (airborne) at the second part of Vilambakalam (pathikalam) - called Varthikam. The melam smoothly travels to 2nd , 3rd  4th & 5th Kalam ( in 6,3,1½,3/4 – chempada vattams)and completes in "Theerukalasam".  The 5th kalam is entirely different & more jubila. Listening to "Panchari" the melam with an eminence" is like watching the Tidal waves from shore.

Thalam :Chempada till 5th Kalam, Panchari in 5th  again chempada in "Theerukalasam" Ragam : Sankarabharanam.

 

PANDI: Clearly perceptible, widely acclaimed, "pandimelam" attained towering heights due to its performance in "Elajitharamelam" of Paramekkavu in Thrissur pooram. The pandimelam is distinct from other Chenda melamgal. The fundamental change is the use of stick in both hands.  Pandi is like climbing a stair case. No. Of Steps + Landing again No. Of Steps + Landing and finally at the top of the tower (explosion of sound) The "takeoff" is in an entirely different format called "Kolumbal/Koottiperukkal" which is an enchanting experience. It is difficult to confine " Pandy" to "kalam" or "Aksharakalam". The pandy is designed in such a way that it is accelerating step by step very systematically. During the course of time it will cover up the kalams, not strictly  time- bound. The beauty of Pandy is its "Kalasams". Normally after 4 Thalavattam " "Kalasam" is performed in 3to 6 thalavattams (Subject to the speed of the melam). kalasa thalavattangal is done through "Nerkol" which  shows the nobility and depth of the Pandi. The speed and no of beats are directly proportional. 100 and odd Chendas in "Nerkol" complemented by another 50 and odd instruments- the grand finale of "PANDYMELAM"- is a thrilling  experience .

Thalam: ADANTHA   Ragam : BHAIRAVI

Some maestros in the field-Chenda (without prejudice/ order) Peruvanam Narayana marar, Thrippekkulam Govinda marar, Peruvanam Appumarar, Thrippekulam Achuthamarar, Pallavoor Appumarar, Chakkumkulam Appumarar, Pervanam Kuttanmarar, Mattannur Sankarankutty marar, Peruvanam Satheesan Marar, Cherussery Pandarthil Kuttan Marar

 

THAYAMBAKA: This is another illustrative art form in Vadhyakala and more or less a one man show. Supported by "Elathalam" the thayambaka is performed in "Chenda". Classified as a temple art "Thayambhaka" is staged in between the "deeparadhana" and "athazapooja" Of the temple ( just after the wee hours of the day). The venue is after the "Valiya balikallu" &  before the  "Balivattom".

The duration is 1¼ hour which may vary from ½ an hour to 1½ hour It is a thrilling experience to watch a "Thayambhaka". In front of the holy lamp the supporting artists are lined  leaving the center space for the Maestro, as

         
    Veekum Chenda Elathalam  
Elathalam     Veekum Chenda  
Veekum Chenda     Veekum Chenda  
 

The programme starts with a typical style "Kottivekkuka" by  "Valamthala" Chenda, supported by "Elatahalam". Starting from "Thripuda" and turning to "Ekathala" ( eka means one) the  melam enters the last phase of the preface of  "thayambaka" . Here enter the master of the ensemble and positions at the center and beats twice  and the concert  starts. From "Pathikalam" (slow pace - Chempadavattom)  "Thyambhaka"  steadily travels though  various steps like  "Kooru" "Edavattom" 1st stage  & 2nd stage ," "Edanila" & "Erikida" . Here the "Thayambhaka" ends with  a shower of downfall. Single/double/ triple/ penta "Thayambhaka" - According to the no. of  "Pramanies". The no: of  "valamthala & Elathalam" may be increased but the "Edamthala" remains on two.

Some masters & their way of handling " thayambhaka"  

Aliparambhu Sivarama Poduval- systematic & pure  

Kallur Ramankutty Marar- Vibrant  

Mattannur Sankarankutty Marar- Sweet and classic  

Porur Unnikrishnan- Explosive.

Pallavoor Appumarar & Kunjukuttan Marar, Pookattiri Divakara Poduval,Thrithala Kunjukrishna Poduval &Kesava Poduval are some of the masters in this field with proven track record.

 

VALIYAPANI: Instruments used are SANGHU, CHENGILA, ELATHALAM, KOMBU, KUZHAL, Chenda & maram. There are two type of pani –big and small. Valiya pani is again divided into saivapani & vyshnavapani. The earlier is nearly extinct and latter is used during festivals only.

In a nut shell:   Advaita Vedanta is considered as the culmination of rational thinking in India. The absolute of this philosophy can be represented by the syllable "Aum". This is  also known as  "Pranava".The real point of this pranava lies in the fourth state which is termed as "Turiya" – the measureless one (amantra).It may be pointed out  that these forms of Kerala vadhyangal somehow accommodate this philosophy. Mathematically multiplying odd no. with even no. is "Panchavadyam & Pandimelam (7*2=14). And with even no. with  even no is "Panchari (6*2=12).The melam which uses hand & stick-may be considered as "Swathika" (Bramanya) and using both sticks the "Pandy melam" as rajaswa(Kshatriya) combination of these Swathika" & rajaswa is  "Pancha vadhyam". The gist of all these is "Thayambaka". One who mastered in "Thayambaka" can perform any talavadyangal.

One of the most impressive events of the Thrissur Pooram is the fireworks display. People come from faraway places to watch this pulsating display of pyrotechnics. There are four major firework displays in Thrissur Pooram. The ‘sample fireworks’ on the day before the Pooram, the spectacular display of colorful sparklers that light up the sky (amittu) by both sides on the Pooram evening after the Southward Descent, the major fireworks that mark the peak of Pooram celebrations in the early morning hours, and the final fireworks the following day after the Goddesses bid farewell to each other that mark the end of Pooram.

Though almost all the festivals in Kerala have fireworks as an essential part of it, Thrissur Pooram towers above them all for its majesty, variety and scale. Like all other, fireworks display is also an event in which the Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu temples compete with each other to provide the crowd with the best and the most unexpected.

The fireworks is laid out near the Vadakkumnathan Temple at an elevated place, so that it iis visible not only to those who crowd around the Swaraj Round but also to people living kilometers away from it.

According to sources, an active member of Thrissur Pooram committee witnessed a Chinese firework display during his visit to the Park Fare Exhibition at Madras about 75 years ago. Inspired by the spectacle, he brought some items of Chinese fireworks to Thrissur like poothiri, lathiri, moolipeevu, vaanam etc. It obviously fired popular imagination and in no time, the art and craft of fireworks was taken up by enterprising indigenous families, who developed it into the pulsating event that it is now. Every year new and never-seen-before items are added to the fireworks, with both the temples devoting a large share of resources for it.

The earliest masters of fireworks display, like Kuriya, Ponnuveetil Gopalan Nair, Narayana Panicker, Chelapadan Anthony, Vadakkethala Kochapu etc were not formally or technically trained in the art. They learned it through experience and experimentation and virtually developed it into a major industry. All the fireworks-managers of today are the followers of these pioneers. For a long time the responsibility of the Paramekkavu fireworks was vested with Karayarakattil Jose, who has now retired from the scene.

The fame of the Thrissur fireworks crossed boundaries and reached USA and a master was invited to display fireworks in connection with a presidential Sworn - in USA

It was only in the early 1970’s that a fixed schedule for fireworks display was introduced. Until then whichever party - Thiruvambadi or Paramekkavu - that reaches the pandal first would begin their fireworks display. As this led to a lot of misunderstandings and also untoward incidents, a rotation system was introduced. According to this, each temple would take turns to light their fireworks first. From then on, both the parties have followed this system.

The Thrissur pooram which is celebrated during the month of April-May is one of the greatest festivals of elephants and drums. The grant show of temples in the vicinity of the vast Vadakkumnathan temple was started in the present form by the great visionary the Sakthan Thampuran, the ruler of the Cochin State. Now the pooram is celebrated with processions from various temples consisting of caparisoned elephants decorated deities embedded in golden Kolams held with colorful specially prepared large umbrellas and Alavattam made out of peacock feathers and Venchmarams. Each of these decorative items are held and exhibited according to the beating of drums by trained men sat over the elephant.

The accompaniment to the elephants stationed in front of elephants consists of drummers, officials of the temple and residents of that particular area mostly the devotees of that temple .as Thrissur pooram has become one of the greatest attractions of the people not only from Kerala but also from other countries of the world, the responsibility of the local administration and the organizers have become much more than the usual rituals. Now they are trying to improve the show by adding improved themes in the show. This will also help to minimize the monotony of locals who throng to the venue every year.

The two main poorams of Paramekkavu and Thiruvambady has already accomplished this by improving the kudamattam and fire works. But the other poorams are still lagging behind in this process due to financial crunch and other problems. Due to the initiative taken by the Tourism Department of Kerala Government and the Cochin Dew Swam Board these poorams are also trying to improve and innovate their processions with new ideas.

Since Thrissur pooram is commonly known as drum criented festival, the improvements
should be limited to the present structure so that it should cater with the taste of visiting people consisting of large number of foreigners and non-Malaya lees. The present forms of Melam and panchavadyam are the live wires of the show and this should be improved with well known artists accompaniments.

The restrictions and the time limit in the Thekkinkadu Maidan also hamper them considerably. Taking into all these aspects including the thin attendance in the main throughfare like the Kuruppam road and M.G. road from where all these poorams originate should be the focal point for improvisation. These will attract more tourists to these pooramseven before entering the main venue, the maidan.

The restrictions and the time limit in the Thekkinkadu Maidan also hamper them considerably. Taking into all these aspects including the thin attendance in the main thoroughfare like the Kuruppam road and M.G. road from where all these poorams originate should be the focal point for improvisation. These will attract more tourists to these pooram even before entering the main venue, the maidan.

During the procession including the start of it, the following forms of drums which is suitable to amalgamate with our drums and processions can be included in intervals as this temple rituals from other parts of our country which has now started coming out of the walls of temple are attracting large number of people when they are shown along with various programmes.

Some Interesting Indian Art forms (general information).

Pang-cholam

This is Manipuri drum dance where the drummers and musicians will dance along with the music and the sound in different formation vary vigorously and it is a treat to watch.

Bowl singers of Bengal

This art form the singers have two instruments, one is called a string instrument and the other one is a small thabala and they will be singing, dancing and drumming and moving from one place to another in different formations. This is a very melodios traditional, religious and ancient art form they sing Bhajans of various Gods.

Chatu dance of Orissa

Puruliya, Mayur Bhang and Sarai kela

There are physical movements similar to marshal arts (rigorous) with very large size drums and Musical instruments.

Lasam from Gujarat

In this form the instrument is called lasam and with help of this they sing and dance in different combinations.

Bangda from Punjab

In this dance form men wearing colorful dresses with turban on their head will drum and dance in different formations.

   

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