In view of the recent Kollam temple tragedy, this year’s Thrissur Pooram has come into the spotlight.

From ornamental fans to ornate umbrellas meet the men behind Thrissur Pooram
news Thrissur Pooram Saturday, April 16, 2016 - 22:20

In view of the recent Kollam temple tragedy, this year’s Thrissur Pooram has come into the spotlight wih the High Court allowing its conduct, albeit with certain restrictions on display of fireworks. But the Pooram is not just about fireworks, there is more to it than just that. The visual extravaganza of the Pooram is a combination of various elements, from the decorated pandals to ornamentations exhibited on the tuskers to huge ornate umbrellas.

As I walked into Thiruvambady Dewasom building in Thrissur, Aranattukara Purushothaman and his team were giving final touches to the decorative umbrellas that will be used for this year’s Thrissur Pooram to be held on Sunday.

It is with the effort of fourteen other people and Purushothaman himself that the team is able to make 51 sets of decorative umbrellas over a period of two months. The team prepares well in advance for the Pooram, with preparations starting as early as two months before the event. 

“We buy the cloth for making the umbrellas from Surat, as they are superior in quality as compared to local ones and the variety in their designs is attractive. This time around, we bought printed cloth and added more decorations over it,” said Purushothaman.

Aranattukara Purushothaman is a known name at the Pooram having lent his services for 36 years. He was associated with the Paramekkavu Dewasom for thirty years before he started making umbrellas for the Thiruvambady Dewasom six years ago. The 57-year-old quickly looks around and says with a child-like glee, “I might look young to you, but I have got children and grandchildren at home”.

Each umbrella is 28.5 inches in length and costs around Rs 11,000 and can go up to Rs 25,000 depending on the work involved. The frames are steel plated and the handle is made of wood. Innovation comes naturally to Purushothaman as his hands move deftly around the red umbrella he is making.

Kadavath Chandran is another person who is an integral part of the Thrissur Pooram. He is the man behind Aalavattam and Venchamaram that contribute to the visual appeal of the Pooram. Aalavattom is a circular ornamental fan made of peacock feathers and silk thread, while the white flowing tufts of Venchamaram are made of yak’s hair.

When asked about his connection with the festival, Kadavath remembers the time, forty years ago, when he first started making them as an assistant. He says, “It has been sixteen years since I took up full responsibility of making these ornamental fans”. Every year, Kadavath and his team of three, make 15 pairs of Aalavattam and Venchamaram for the Pooram.

Prof. Muraleedharan has been involved with the Pooram since his student days. “My family has traditionally been involved in making Aalavattam and Venchamaram for Thiruvambady Dewasom. And never has it once affected my academic life, be it when I was a student or later when I began teaching, since Thrissur Pooram usually falls in the month of April-May,” he said.

In a scholarly manner, he begins by explaining the historical significance of these two elements which are considered an essential part of not only Thrissur Pooram, but all poorams in general.

“In Ramayana, Mahabharata and a number of Kalidasa’s works, one can see several mentions of Aalavattam and Venchamaram being used as a symbol of grandeur in temple festivals”.

Show us some love and support our journalism by becoming a TNM Member - Click here.