The Congress in Thrissur is focusing on the Thrissur Pooram — an annual temple festival that is set to be held in April — ahead of the Assembly elections. UDF candidate and daughter of former Chief Minister K Karunakaran, Padmaja Venugopal, is on a hunger strike demanding that the district administration give a written word that the Thrissur Pooram will be held this year without restrictions. For the first time in its history, Thrissur Pooram was not celebrated in 2020 due to the pandemic. This year, the Thrissur Pooram is slated to be held on April 23.
Padmaja’s hunger strike comes after the district administration held a meeting, chaired by the District Collector, and decided to hold the Thrissur Pooram without any restrictions, despite the rising cases of COVID-19. Despite the go-ahead, the UDF in Thrissur wants a written agreement that the Thrissur Pooram will be held in a full-fledged manner this year. However, sitting CPI MLA and Minister of Agriculture VS Sunil Kumar criticised Padmaja for her hunger strike, stating that the UDF was being greedy.
The Thrissur Pooram takes place primarily with two groups of participants: the Paramekkavu and Thiruvambady Temple Devaswoms. Every year, the festival sees a surge in sales and is a good time for local and street vendors to sell their wares. This year, the district administration had earlier announced that the Thrissur Pooram will be held in a low-key manner. However, following protests, the district administration has now allowed the temple festival to be celebrated without any restrictions.
As per the latest decision, the fireworks and displays at the Thrissur Pooram will be held as usual. It has allowed 15 tuskers and the kudamattam (changing umbrellas) ceremony as part of the procession. However, the number of stalls at the site and around the Swaraj Round will be reduced by half. The district administration said that the stalls should be set up five-feet apart.
With UDF’s hunger strike, the party is also attempting to make the Thrissur Pooram a poll conversation ahead of the elections.