If you have watched Tamil mythological films in the 50s or 60s, you might have come across the word 'kailasam'. Kailasam or Mount Kailash found in Tibet is believed to be the residing place of Lord Shiva with His consort Parvati and children Lord Ganesha and Lord Murugan. It's considered sacred and till today no one has climbed to its peak.

Meanwhile, in the South, the cultural city of Thrissur at the heart of Kerala—rich with history and archeological spectacle—is known as 'Then Kailasam' or the Kailasam of the South. The word 'Thrissur' was derived from Tiru-Shiva-Perur meaning 'the town with the name of Lord Shiva'.

For centuries, this sacred city of Shiva has been celebrating the grand assembly of Gods and Goddesses during a temple festival called Trisshur Pooram.

On the day the moon rises with the Pooram star in the Malayalam month of Medam, Gods and Goddesses gather from different temples in Kerala with a monumental ensemble of over 100 elephants, thousands of devotees, Chenda Melam and Pancha Vadyam.

The celebration goes on for 36 hours non-stop and usually falls between the months of April or May. This year the festival is taking place on 13th and 14th May.

One of the signature rituals of the festival includes a 54-year-old celebrity elephant named Thechikkottukavu Ramachandran, fondly known as 'Raman'.

At the eve of Trisshur Pooram, Raman will parade with the idol of Naithalakavillamma and push open the ancient gates of Vadakkunnanathan Temple where the gathering of the Gods and Goddesses idols occurs. Ramachandran has been the curtain raiser of the festival for years. Despite being one of the highlights of the celebrations, Raman has been banned by the district administration from parading in the festival.

WHY? Raman is half blind and over the last 30 years is known to have killed at least 13 people and 3 other elephants. His violent nature and a medically-unfit certificate from a five-member panel of experts have probbed Kerala’s Chief Wildlife Warden to issue the order in March 2019. Even in previous years, the Kerala High Court has banned Raman several times.

However, after continuous political pressure and his rising popularity, the ban was revoked just in time for the festival. The district collector ordered the ban to be lifted after a thorough examination by veterinarians. Here's a picture of devotees cheering as Raman kicks open the gates of the temple yesterday:

Source: NDTV, The News Minute & Thrissur Pooram Festival
Photo Credit: Rahul Ravi Photography