The annual Thrissur Pooram, billed as the mother of all temple festivals in Kerala, will not be held this year in the wake of the nationwide lockdown, the Kerala government said on Wednesday.
The iconic festival, known for the parade of richly caparisoned jumbos, performance of traditional music ensembles and a sea of cheering people, was to be held at the sprawling Thekkinkadu Maidan in Thrissur city on May 2 this year.
Agriculture Minister and a legislator from the district VS Sunil Kumar told the media that the state government and members of the two devaswom boards, which organise the festival, held discussions and consulted with the priests and "unanimously decided" to cancel the Pooram.
"After considering the unusual situation of pandemic we are facing, the state government and the devaswom boards have unanimously decided to cancel the famous Thrissur Pooram (festival) and will conduct only the necessary rituals," the minister said.
The rituals will be conducted inside the Vadakkunnathan Lord Shiva temple with the participation of five people and devotees will not be allowed inside the temple.
"All other events related to the Thrissur pooram, including the exhibition, mini-poorams also standcancelled," he said, adding that all the religious institutions are supposed to follow the lockdown protocol.
The pooram had been cancelled earlier as well, including in 1948 when Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated and then during the 1962 Chinese war.
"Earlier also it was cancelled or held with minimum rituals when there was a difference of opinion over conducting the fireworks and handling of the usual exhibition," the minister said.
This year's festival was scheduled to be held on May 3.
The Pooram exhibition, which usually begins on April 1 and ends in the last week of May, has already been cancelled.
The two-century-old Thrissur Pooram’s origin goes back to 1798, to a royal edict of the then Raja Rama Varma, popularly known as Shakthan Thampuran, a powerful ruler of the erstwhile princely state of Cochin.
The edict entrusted two local temples -- Paramekkavu and Thiruvambady -- as the main sponsors of the festivities to be conducted in a competitive spirit.
Besides the main poorams by the two devaswoms, small poorams from nearby temples also participate in the festivities, which ends with a fireworks display.