Special Khadaka Pooram – The temples associated with Thrissur Pooram, the biggest temple festival of Kerala

Paramekkavu Bhagavathy Temple and Thiruvambady Sree Krishna Temple organize almost all major events associated with Thrissur Pooram. But it’s not just the participation of two temples, but a huge festival with 10 major temples associated with the event. Thrissur Pooram is a get together for 10 deities belonging to different regions in the main city and the outskirts, and similar to Peruvanam Pooram, all of them are either Bhagavati or Shasta. Also read: Temples associated with Peruvanam Arattupuzha Pooram.

There are 8 small temples near to Vadakkumnatha temple which participate in the major events of Thrissur Pooram, and they together play a magnificent role in the whole events. They start off with elephant processions, following a few rituals and customs, accompanied by traditional music and reach the temple maidan – Thekkinkadu Maidan, unify together to perform the gaint pooram. Known by the name Khadaka Pooram (which literally means Sub-Pooram) the unification of these 10 temples (including the two active participants) was done by Shaktan Thampuram in 1798 and conducted it as a mass festival. Through this column, let me give a brief note of 8 temples associated with Thrissur Pooram.

Kanimangalam Shasta Temple starts off in the dawn break

Poora Khadakam Kanimangalam and Neythalakavu

As per rules, Shasta of Kanimangalam should reach Thrissur Pooram without exposure to sun. So he starts off early at around 5 am on Pooram day accompanied by locals. He is the only deity who doesn’t circumvallate or bow before Vadakkumnathan for the eve. The presiding deity is Deva Guru Brihaspati, and that’s the reason why. If he comes forward, Vadakkumnathan should stand up to show his respect. That’s the reason why he reaches the temple through Thekke Gopura Nada (south door) and leaves through Padinjare Nada (west side).

Kanimangalam Shasta is installed at 5 kms away from Vadakkumnathan in the east direction. He starts off on Pooram day in the early morning in a single elephant, accompanied by Nadaswaram. When the troupe reaches Kulassery, 4 more elephants join him, and the group is accompanied by Chempada. When the group reaches Manikandanaal (near banyan tree), the total count of elephants reaches 9 in number. He enters the temple through Thekke Gopura Nada and leaves through Padinjare Gopura Nada.

Ayyanthole Bhagavathy welcomed with Nirapara offerings

Ayyanthole Bhagavathy reaches the Thrissur Pooram eve accepting Niraparas/Paras offered by devotees throughout the journey from Ayyanthole to temple maidan. Malar (fried rice), flowers, bananas and other fruits will be offered by devotees. The local people also accompany the goddess. Ayyanthole Karthyayani is believed to be the sibling of Chempukavu Bhagavathy. This temple is situated 4 km away from Vadakkumnathan in north-west direction. The temple is a wonderful art piece of mural paintings and architecture.

Devi starts off soon after Aarattu and Pooja in the early morning at 3 am. She starts off in three elephants, accompanied by nagaswaram. Four more elephants and Panchavadyam join the group at Kottappuram bridge. When the group moves towards Sree Moola Sthanam from Naduvilaal, Melam starts off. She enters the temple through Padinjare Gopura Nada (west side), bows before Vadakkumnathan and leaves the temple through Thekke Gopuram (southern side).

Anujathi Pooram of Chembukavu

Poora Khadakam Panamukkumpilly and Chembukavu

As told above, goddesses of Chembukavu and Ayyanthole are siblings. It’s believed that Ayyanthole Karthyayani is the eldest one. As a part of annual celebrations, the siblings used to visit the other temple. On Pooram day, Chembukavu prays before Vadakkumnathan and returns before noon.

She starts off her procession (Ezhunnallipp) with three elephants and panchavadyam. She enters Vadakkumnathan through Kizhakke Gopura Nada (east side), and when she reaches Thekke Gopura Nada (southern side), the famous Panchavadyam starts off. It’s followed by Panchari melam, and she leaves the temple through southern side.

She reaches Pradikshina Vazhi (walkway) and once again enters the temple through Thekke Gopura Nada (southern side), prays before Vadakkumnathan and leaves the temple through Padinjare Gopuram (west door). For Thrissur Pooram, only Chempukavu Bhagavathi owns the right to process inside the temple accompanied by Panchari Melam.

Laloor Bhagavathy from Yagabhoomi

One of the 108 Durga Temples in Kerala found by Saint Parasurama, it’s believed to a place of Yagas. The place name, Laloor was originally derived from Yagoor. Laloor Karthyayani devi starts off from this temple. The temple owns a glorious and prosperous past. Conflicts between Shaktan Thampuran and temple authorities resulted in the decline of its prosperity and fame. The temple is filled with many carvings, centuries old. Goddesses of Laloor and Karamukku are believed to be siblings.

Laloor Karthyayani starts off at 6 am as procession of three elephants, accompanied by Panchavadyam. When she reaches Kottappuram, the total count of elephants reaches five. At Naduvalaal, 4 more elephants join the group, and melam accompanies.

Naithalakavilamma to start off the ceremony

Thechikott Ramachandran commencing Thrissur Pooram

As a part of the grand Pooram feast, the first deity to reach Vadakkumnathan is Naithalakavilamma from Kuttoor. She reaches Vadakkumnatha temple, one day prior to the event. She has been assigned one of the major events associated with Pooram. Thekke Gopura Nada (southern temple door), where Kudamattom and Thekkottirakkam are conducted, is opened by Naithalakavilamma prior to Pooram events. For many years, the celebrated elephant Thechikottukavu Ramachandran owns the right to carry Bhagavathy’s Thidamb and knocks open the door. The event is witnessed by hundreds of Pooram fans and one of the most significant events associated with Thrissur Pooram. This ritual is centuries-old started off in the glorious days of royal rule.

This temple is situated 6 kms away from Vadakkumnathan, in the north direction. Vatta Sreekovil present here is equivalent to that of Vadakkumnathan’s. As per beliefs, Mahadevan was the presiding deity of the temple in the ancient time, and the presence of Naithalakavilamma was seen only later. On Pooram day, she starts to Vadakkumnathan at around 8.30 am. She starts off in a single family, accompanied by Nagaswaram and a big crowd accompanies the event. When she reaches Naduvilaal, it becomes a group of 11 elephants. She enters the temple through Padinjare Gopura Nada (west side) and leaves the temple through Thekke Gopura Nada (east side).

Choorakottu Kavilamma accompanied by 14 elephants

During early days, the locality was filled with bamboo (Chooral in local terms), and that’s why it earned the name, Choorakottu Kavu. The place where temple is situated now was once a Yaga bhoomi, where Yagas (offerings giving to fire to please gods) were conducted frequently. The prayer hall (Namaskara Mandapam) and Sreekovil are constructed in the same ground level, and are not separated. Sreekovil is not partitioned to a separate room. For the same reason, devotees can’t enter Nalambalam. They pray before goddess from distance. The members of Appattukulam ancestral family light the four stone lamps in the evening. 

For the Pooram festival, Choorakottu Kavilamma starts off in a single elephant accompanied by Nagaswaram and Nadapandi music. When she reaches Naduvilaal, 13 more elephants join her. Pandimelam starts off at this juncture. The pandimelam group may include around 115 artists, who perform for the eve. She enters Vadakkumnathan through Padinjare Gopuram (west side of the temple) and comes out through Thekke Gopuram (southern side).

Swamiyaar Shasta idol of Panamukkumpilly    

When Shankaracharya’s disciples reach Thrissur to construct Madam, they worshipped the idol of Shasta, and the idol of Panamukkumpilly Shasta installed in this temple is believed to be the same one. The group which reached Thrissur stayed at Kizhakkumpattukara. The idol they worshipped then and the locality slowly turned to a shrine, as per popular beliefs.

There is yet another argument that disciples of Shankaracharya only reinstalled it later. If so the temple is dated to more than 2000 years old. This temple is still under the control of Thekke Madam, and a ruling body has been elected by the local people to provide it energy and strength. Shasta idol of the temple takes the form of Padmasana, carrying Amrit pot in one hand. Thekkemadam Mooppil Swamiyar conducts pooja here once in every year.

On Pooram day, Shasta starts off with three elephants, Thakil and Nagaswaram. He enters Vadakkumnathan through Kizhakke Gopura Nada (eastern side), and leaves the temple through same door itself. For the night procession (Ezhunnallath), Shasta is not accompanied by Melam.

Karamukku Bhagavathy of Khara Saint

Poora Khadakam of Karamukku Laloor Churakottukavu and Ayyanthol

The famous Pookkattikara-Karamukku Temple is situated 5 kilometer from Vadakkumnathan Temple. The temple was installed during Parasurama’s time, and the famous Khara Saint lived here for a long period. It’s believed that the name Karamukku is associated with saint’s name. Kharamukku changed to Karamukku as time passed by. When Shaktan Thampuram was on exile, he used to visit the temple pond for bathing.

Pookkattikara Siva and Karamukku Bhagavathy reside in this temple. Pookkattikara temple was earlier located at a little distance from Karamukku temple, and shrine was later shifted here. The building structures give a feel that two temples have been joined together.

On Pooram day morning, Bhagavathi starts off at 5 am seated on a single elephant accompanied by Nagaswaram and Nadapandi. When the group reaches near Pulassery temple, 2 more elephants join the group. Pandi melam is done under the guidance of famous Peruvanam Kuttan Maraar for procession for the past few years. She enters Vadakkumnathan through Padinjaare Gopuram (Western side) and leaves the temple through Thekke Gopuram (Southern side).

You can read a few more articles related to Thrissur Pooram celebrations commenced in the month of Medam, the biggest temple festival of Kerala. Here is the page link. Click on the images in the gallery to read

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A freelance writer and blogger by profession since October 2011, interested in writing over a wide range of topics. Hope you enjoy my writings. I belong to one of the beautiful places of the world, Kerala, nicknamed as 'God's own country'.

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