Peruvanam Pooram, Anyone?

The average person in TamilNadu may not really know what Pooram means except maybe for the birthstar or Nakshatram. And for those of us who have vaguely heard of the Trichur Pooram or watched in movies, we have hazy pictures of elephants and a huge crowd. What was it to actually be IN a Pooram, not having much idea about it?The Peruvanam Pooram ( It is held at Peruvanam Temple in Cherpu, Thrissur District. Lord Shiva (Mahadeva) is the presiding deity of this temple)-For someone like me who didn’t really know what a Pooram actually was, this one which is supposedly the great grandfather of all Poorams was a sheer extravaganza.

When I saw the crowd my question was ” Is the entire Kerala here today?”. Whether it’s the elephant decoration, the gymnastics( literally )of those people who performed standing atop the elephants, the colourful umbrellas that kept changing every few minutes , the fire lighting, the percussion, the crowd euphoria… It was all new and it was all ecstatic!

First I gazed at the sheer magnitude of the preparations of the entire festival, then I stared at the details and after sometime I started swaying to the beats and tapping my feet- one step short of dancing in joy at the effect of the festivities which slowly grow on you! Not to mention the passionate, engaging conversations I had with those veterans who have been organising and attending the festival since their childhood.

And when I look at it from a societal angle, here is another example of how India is way ahead in almost every popular practice that exists in modern times. ( The earliest historical reference to Peruvanam occurs in A.D. 583 (“Ayathu Shivalokam Nah” – kalivakyam denoting the starting of Peruvanam pooram as per Peruvanam Granthavari) which is also the first record of the oldest pooram festival )

This festival draws a crowd, it brings business, it is clean entertainment, it offers music, a scope to sway to music, it weaves humans and animals together. And quite magically, the percussion is disciplined, loud and rhythmic but sheer music to the ears- and not for a moment, brash or irritating. One felt all negative energies being driven away while listening to those methodic rhythms.Think about it folks! There is nothing that is not there in our own country that we need to seek elsewhere. In fact we have been predecessors to almost every aspect of modernity. A huge crowd-live music, euphoric dance, shopping…..rings any bells? I hope to catch glimpses of this cultural magnum opus through the lens someday. And take in the entire expanse through all my senses!And in the meanwhile, my antennae go alert when I hear the β€œmelam” in my neighbourhood Ayyappan temple and I appreciate the artists better than ever!

So I say Thank you for the Pooram

, the percussion am listening,

Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing

Who can live without it,

I ask in all honesty

What would life be?

Without a Melam or a Panchavadyam what are we?

So I say thank you for the Pooram For giving it to me ….

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