Thrissur Pooram, this time, will be an ensemble of freshness and creativity. From the famed Ilanjitharamelam to Panchavadyam and the parading of elephants to the fireworks, the changes will be discernible all through the event. It’s going to be a Pooram, giving a novel experience. Here are the changes being brought in to break with the past:-
Overhaul of percussion ensembles
Both the Pareamekkavu and Thiruvambadi Devaswom, the key organizers of the event, are overhauling their percussion troops and have brought in several changes this time. The legendary Peruvanam Kuttan Maraar, who had led the Ilanjitharamelam for 24 years on a trot, will be missing in action this time. Instead, the Paramakkavu Devaswom has engaged Kizhakkottu Aniyan Marar -- the senior most chandamelam maestro in the state, to lead the Ilanjitharamelam this time.
Peruvanam Satheeshan Marar on the right and Thiruvalla Radhakrishnan on the left will serve as the second in Commands of the ensemble, which takes place in front of the Ilanji tree in the temple premises. Peruvanam Yadu S Marar, son of Peruvanam Satheesan Marar, will also be part of the troop this time. As Ashok G Marar will stay away owing to the death of his father -- Thrikkoor Mani Marar, he will be replaced by Harish Chottanikkara.
Changes in panchavadyam ensemble
The panchavadyam ensemble too boasts several changes this time. Instead of Parakkadu Thankappan Marar, Chottanikkara Nandappan will lead the panchavadyam ensemble by Paramekkavu. Kalamandalam Kuttinarayanan will replace Kunissery Chandran for Maddalam while Parakkad Babu is slated to hold the Ilathalam instead of Panjal Velukutty.
Kongadu Madhu, meanwhile, is expected to retain his position as the leading artist of the Madathil Varavu panchavadyam.
The Fireworks of change
Meanwhile, the move to bring in changes in the Pooram fireworks has triggered a controversy. The Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization (PESO) has given a strict direction against the decades-long practice of erecting a resting space for the fireworks workers near the magazine, in which the explosive stock is kept.
The step takes a cue from the report that the explosion during the fireworks at Puttingal in Kollam had been triggered by a flame that spread from a similar shed near the magazine. Police officials will be deployed to regulate the entry into the magazine.
Changes are being introduced in the conduct of the Pooram festival as well. As against the practice of extending government assistance and making department-level arrangements, the organization of the entire event has now been made the sole responsibility of the Pooram committees concerned. The Devaswom board has raised the rent for the Pooram exhibition sharply to two crore rupees from Rs 40 lakh in the previous years. It is now for the Pooram committees to meet all the expenditures, including that of erecting barricades, and has threatened to affect the smooth conduct of the event this year. Financial assistance extended by the State Government too has been done away with.
The missing majesty
The death of seven elephants, which were paraded during last year’s Pooram, comes as a painful loss for Pooram enthusiasts. Paramkkavu Padmanabhan, the elephant that had carried the main deity of the Paramekkavu temple for nearly two decades, expired in July last year. The scene of the elephant with a height of over 10 feet parading for the Thekkottirakkam ritual by carrying the idol of deity was one of the major attractions of Pooram, known as the festival of festivals.
Similarly, elephant Paramekkavu Devidasan, which had been an integral part of the Thekkottirakkam ritual for 21 years too died recently. The animal, which had the opportunity to carry the main deity once, had been ailing for nearly a year.
Machad Karnan, widely known among elephant enthusiasts and used to appear for Pooram regularly, breathed its last recently. Cherpulassery Valiya Ayyappan, an elephant known for its imposing presence, too, will be missing this time.
Other elephants missing from the festival scene are Paramekkavu Ayyappan, Nadakkal Unnikrishnan, Guruvayur Devaswom- owned Junior Madhavan Kutty, and Kunnamkulam Ganeshan that used to appear for Thiruvambadai Devaswom.
In the absence of Padmanabhan, Gurvayur Nandan stands a chance to carry the deity’s idol for the Paramekkavu temple this time. For Thiruvambadi, it will be Thiruvambadi Chandrashekharan. The duty of opening the Thekkegopura Nada, which marks the beginning of Pooram, rests with Ernakulam Sivakumar. By carrying the idol of Neythalakkavilamma, Thechikkottukavu Ramachandran too will be present for the Pooram.
Heightened vigil for Pooram
Meanwhile, the police have installed a security network of 300 CCTV cameras to have a hawk’s eye on the developments at Pooram venue. Officials have been tasked to monitor the cameras on a round-the-clock basis from a control room. Directions have been issued to commercial establishments, including private finance institutions, to restore all their dysfunctional cameras. Patrolling has been intensified in lodges and hotels to monitor movement of criminals and anti-social elements. Directions have been issued to verify documents of those staying at hotels and also to ensure CCTV monitoring, informed Ankit Ashokan, Police Commissioner.
Surveillance has been strengthened across all public places, including malls, markets, bus stands, and railway station. A team of women police officers has been deployed to ensure the safety of women and children. To prevent theft and pick-pocketing, the city has been classified into different zones, and police teams have been deployed in each of them with special tasks. Officials having expertise in identifying criminals will be deployed on surveillance duty.
A computer database, which also comprises the picture of history sheeters will be made available to all police officers and special monitoring of criminals who were released from prison recently will be carried out.