Thrissur: In the wake of a fire tragedy at a temple in Kollam, the world-famous Thrissur Pooram festival, known for its colorful parade of caparisoned elephants and spectacular firework display, is likely to be abandoned.
With the Kerala High Court banning the use of high-decibel fireworks in the night at places of worship across the state, festival organisers are getting apprehensive that the grand festival may lose its traditional grandeur.
The organisers will take the final decision in this regard by this evening. According to them, the Chief Minister's Office has asked them to hold the festival.
Hours after the court had on Tuesday issued the order, two major Devaswoms - Paramekkavu and Thiruvampady - the major players in the festival here - sought "higher level" intervention to organise the state's renowned week-long festivities which commenced on Monday.
"We will not take any risk. If there are no fireworks, we will have to abandon this national festival," said K Manoharan, president of the Paramekkavu Devaswom.
Manoharan, who has been part of the Pooram organising committee for last five decades, said the two Devaswoms have decided to become a party in the ongoing case in the High Court and apprise the judiciary of a Supreme Court order they received in favour of organising the festival in its traditional way.
The Devaswoms will move the High Court with their versions during its sitting this afternoon.
"Police, Revenue and Forest Departments are putting a lot of restrictions in organising the event. This morning we received a letter from the Forest Department, saying that there should be 4 m of distance between two elephants being paraded as part of the festival", Manoharan had told PTI yesterday.
"There will be 15 elephants from our side and keeping such a distance between elephants is not practical due to space crunch. In such a scenario, why should we take risk," he asked.
He said the Thrissur Pooram has been adjudged by the UNESCO as "the most spectacular festival event on the planet" and abandoning such a festival is very painful for him as well as the people of Thrissur.
Besides fireworks display, processions of majestically caparisoned elephants and changing of sequined parasols are the other major attractions of Pooram festival that culminates on April 17. Manoharan said a joint meeting of the office-bearers of
all 10 Devaswoms including Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi have decided that they will be forced to avoid the major attractions of the Pooram "unless there is a higher-level intervention to organise it in a traditional way."
The meeting was also held against the backdrop of the Thrissur City Police Commissioner issuing notices to the Devaswoms to ensure that no chemicals such as potassium chlorate, which are commonly used for fireworks as part of Pooram festival, be used during this year's celebrations.
The police chief has warned that the Devaswoms presidents will be held responsible, if the law is violated.
The notices were issued following the court order directing a ban on the use of sound-generating fireworks between sunset and sunrise at places of worship.
Thrissur is best known for its Pooram festival and it is the most colourful and spectacular temple festivals of Kerala.
Devotees and spectators from all parts of the state and even outside throng the Pooram introduced during the reign of Sakthan Thampuran (1775-1790), the Raja of Kochi.
With the Kollam temple tragedy, which has so far claimed 113 lives and left over 300 injured, bringing to the fore safety issues, the Thrissur district administration had on Monday imposed regulations including use of low-decibel crackers.
The administration had decided to give sanction to two temple devaswoms (boards) to use a total of 4,000 kg low- decibel fire crackers for the finale of the festival.
(With PTI inputs)