Thrissur Pooram starts with fanfare , pomp and grandeur

Thrissur Pooram starts with fanfare , pomp and grandeur

Thrissur, May5: The Pooram is undoubtedly the mother of all temple festivals in Kerala. The sheer grandeur of the occasion with close to 100 caparisoned elephants and gigantic fire makes it one of a kind around the globe. But so does the dangers surrounding it.

Following the terrible tragedy that struck at Puttangal in Kollam in April 2016 in which 110 people died and 400 were injured at an early dawn fireworks display in a local temple, the Central government had put in some stringent measures to curb such dangerous fireworks in the state. This meant that in a state that has thousands of temple festivals every year, with each having its own fireworks display — often in competition with one another, the present order put the entire fireworks display business out of commission.

Thrissur Pooram, however is an exception. The organisers, the Thiruvambady and Paramekavu Temple Trusts, the primary participants of the Pooram had agreed to the conditions put forth by the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) in terms of the nature of the explosives, their content and the way they need to be used. PESO is a part of the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

In local parlance, ‘six-inch amittu‘, ‘four-inch Kuzhiminnal‘, ‘six-centimetre (diameter) Gundu‘ and palm crackers are the only ones that will be showcased before fireworks aficionados in Thrissur in the wee hours of Saturday. PESO has also banned the use of dynamite and potassium chlorate in any form. Also the maximum decibel allowance has been reduced to under 125db.

Pooram under intense security cover

Matters do not end with the awarding of the much-awaited license. Rather, the bigger challenge starts in the implementation of the license. The lessons learned from the Puttangal tragedy are that despite a blanket ban, fireworks were used, taking away precious lives. After issuing the license, if the authorities do not keep a close eye, the disaster could be much worse.

But Venugopal says he has put in some of the best measures possible to guard lives at Thrissur. At the fireworks site, his team has been closely watching every movement for the past 10 days. Parts of the ‘Thekkinkadu Maidanam’ — the venue for the fireworks display — has been sealed off from the general public and for the first time ever, fire hydrant systems have been installed around the ground. Thirty-five such points with pipes that can pump high pressure water have been put in place. “Nowhere in the world are fireworks displays being conducted under such immense security cover, while at the same time we are allowing traditional materials to be used which are certainly more volatile than the modern fireworks,”

The Swaraj Ground, the venue of the 220th edition of Thrissur Pooram is all ready to host the pooram

11.45 am: Paramekkavu devaswam makes the last minute preparations before the procession

11.30 am: ‘Cheru poorams’ continue to arrive.

The festivities got underway with the elephant Thechikkottukkavu Ramachandran carrying the replica of the goddess Neythalkkavilamma pushing open the doors of the southern entrance tower of Vadakkumnatha Temple that hosts the Pooram on Thursday.

The last minute preparations for #thrissurpooram #keralatourism @pattomrahul

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