Kerala Forest dept circular for Thrissur Pooram celebration irks temple panels

With the iconic Thrissur pooram just days away, a new circular issued by the Kerala Wildlife Department has sparked a controversy as temple committees strongly objected to some of its conditions and urged the state government to withdraw it for the smooth conduct of the annual spectacle.
Thrissur Pooram
Thrissur Pooram

Thrissur (Kerala) | With the iconic Thrissur pooram just days away, a new circular issued by the Kerala Wildlife Department has sparked a controversy as temple committees strongly objected to some of its conditions and urged the state government to withdraw it for the smooth conduct of the annual spectacle.

The temple authorities and jumbo owners even suspected that the conditions of the circular with regard to parading of the domestic elephants during festivals were part of a conspiracy to sabotage the Pooram.

According to the new circular issued by D Jayaprasad, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) and Wildlife warden, there should no use of crackers, percussion and "theevetti" (fire display) within 50 m radius of the parading of elephants and the festival organisers should ensure this.

The circular mandated that people should maintain a distance of three meters from the jumbos while they are being paraded for festivals and no one other than mahouts should touch the pachyderm.

Dated April 11, the circular, among many other things, also insisted that mahouts who accompany elephants should be subjected to breath-analyser tests by police to ensure that they have not used drugs, liquor or any other contraband.

If any mahout tests positive, he and the respective jumbo shall be removed from the festival premises immediately.

Meanwhile, the major temple committees, which organise the Thrissur Pooram, strongly criticised the Forest Department's circular and urged the government to withdraw it.

A member of Thiruvambady Devaswom, one of the main organisers of the Pooram, said the directives were not practical and could not be implemented.

"The government should intervene in the matter immediately. Otherwise, we cannot go ahead with the preparations for Pooram. All stakeholders including the district administration, police and forest have already held discussions and no such issues have been pointed out," he told the media.

Another temple official sought to know how the "melakkar" (percussionists) could stand at a distance of 50 metre radius of elephants during Thrissur Pooram and cited the practical difficulty in adhering to the instruction.

"We suspect that the circular is part of attempts to sabotage the Thrissur pooram by some vested interests. Some NGOs have been attempting for quite some time for this and certain officials are giving them support," he alleged.

The Thiruvambady Devaswom officials said they would hold discussion with their counterparts in Paramekkavu Devaswom in this regard and come out with a decision about their future action.

Kerala's iconic Thrissur Pooram, generally billed as the mother of all temple festivals in the southern state, is held at the famed Vadakkunnathan Temple in Thrissur annually with a parade of ornately caparisoned elephants and high-octane traditional percussion performance which enthralls a sea of people.

The famed pooram, at the sprawling Thekkinkadu Maidan, used to be witnessed by thousands of people cutting across religion and age barriers.

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