Thrissur Pooram, an important temple festival in Kerala, has been cancelled this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The festival was scheduled to be held on May 3. But the COVID-19 scare and the nationwide lockdown had cast doubts over the festival happening. The Devaswom decided on Wednesday that the annual festival will be celebrated as a ritual only.
The Thrissur Pooram takes place primarily with two groups of participants: the Paramekkavu and Thiruvambady temple Devaswoms.
Arrangements for the festival, underway months earlier, have been stopped due to coronavirus-related restrictions. The two-month-long Pooram exhibition which was scheduled to be held from April 1 onwards had already been cancelled. The exhibition is considered one of the biggest trade fairs conducted in the vicinity of Vadakkunnathan Temple at the Thekkinkadu Ground.
Thiruvambady Devaswom President P Chandrasekaran said, “In the present situation, we can’t conduct the Thrissur Pooram in its full glory. As per estimates, we need nearly Rs 2 crore to conduct the Pooram. The Pooram exhibition, which provides funds to conduct the Pooram to each Devaswom, has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Pooram will be conducted only as a small ritual.”
“Earlier we planned to conduct the Pooram after the lockdown was withdrawn. But in the present situation, (looks like) the restrictions will continue in the district. If conducted, a huge crowd will reach the temple premises to watch the Pooram and it will raise a chance to spread COVID-19,” said Chandrasekaran.
Thrissur is among the eight districts in Kerala designated as a COVID-19 hotspot. Restrictions are anticipated to continue in hotspots when the nationwide lockdown ends on April 14.
Paramekkavu Devaswom Secretary G Rajesh said, “In the present situation we can't think about festivals. We have stopped all Pooram-related activities, including the construction of the umbrella. If the government decides to continue the lockdown, we can’t do any festivals.”
“All Pooram preparations have been stopped. We need 65 sets of umbrellas for the festival, to conduct the Kudamattam procession. The Pooram preparation meeting, scheduled to held in March, was also postponed in the wake of the lockdown,” said Rajesh.
The Thrissur Pooram was conducted as a ritual-only event last in 1962 due to the Indo-China war, Devaswom officials said.