Thiruvananthapuram: Chief Secretary of Kerala V P Joy has called for yet another meeting of the stakeholders on Monday to discuss how to conduct the Thrissur Pooram amid the surge in COVID-19 cases. The top bureaucrat convened another round of talks as the talks on Sunday remained inconclusive. The chief secretary did not attend Sunday's meeting.
The Paramekkavu and Thiruvambady devaswoms — the temple managements organising the annual fest — demanded that RT-PCR tests should not be made mandatory for mahouts attending the Pooram.
The organisers also demanded that those who have taken only one shot of the Covid vaccine should also be allowed to attend the fest.
The district collector said that a decision on both the demands will be connveyed at Monday's meeting.
The Paramekkavu Devaswom on Sunday alleged that there was an attempt to undermine the Pooram festival. Devaswom secretary G Rajesh said the criteria being proposed by the government were impractical.
The state authorities have stated that only those who have received two doses of the vaccine against the fast-spreading disease will be allowed to attend the famed annual event. The government has withdrawn the earlier order that stated only one dose of the vaccine would suffice.
The government issued a new order on Saturday altering the condition. However, those who have not received two doses of the vaccine will have to carry a COVID-19 negative certificate obtained after conducting the RT-PCR test.
Health Minister K K Shailaja had said that the Devaswoms have agreed to follow the COVID-19 guidelines.
The abrupt change in the government order has put the Pooram organisers in a quandary. They had already issued the pass to several public who had received one dose of the vaccine.
Thrissur Pooram will be held on April 23, Friday. As per the new order those intending to attend all the events of the Pooram from the sample fireworks display till the conclusion need to undergo the RT-PCR test on April 20, Tuesday, and carry the results with them.
Meanwhile, the forest department has also brought in more restrictions for the Pooram. If one of the mahouts tests positive for COVID-19, his elephant would also be excluded from the pageants that are integral to the traditional festival.
Intelligentsia call for restraint
A group of academicians and activists have urged the organisers of the Pooram to postpone the festival in view of the pandemic situation.
"It's is clear that it would be impractical to conduct the Pooram in compliance with restrictions and social distancing norms. It would also lead to excess police restrictions. There is a history of the Pooram's extravaganza being restricted during famine and war time. We request the government and the organisers to take the judicious and socially committed decision to postpone the Pooram during the pandemic times," they said in a statement.
The signatories include K G Sankarapillai, Vaisakhan, Kalpetta Narayanan, K Venu and K Aravindakshan.
The flag-hoisting ceremony (kodiyettam) for the Thrissur Pooram was held at Thiruvambadi and Paramekkavu temples on Saturday. The flag-hoisting was also held at the eight participating temples - Laloor, Ayyanthol, Kannimangalam, Karamukku, Panamukkumpally, Chembukkavu, Neythilakkavu, and Choorakkottukavu.