Thrissur Pooram to be held but no spectators allowed
Thiruvanthapuram Amid a relentless surge in Covid cases, the Kerala government and temple authorities on Monday agreed to celebrate Thrissur Pooram, the largest festival of the state at Vadakkunnathan temple in Thrissur, on April 23 with tight restrictions without any spectators, along the lines of the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL).
The district medical officer and intelligentsia had appealed to call off the annual festival even as the government said it was under pressure from temple authorities to hold the same.
Chief secretary V P Joy on Monday held a series of talks with officials of two temples -- Thiruvambady and Paramekavu -- and decided to livestream the function and rituals while making it mandatory for artists and mahouts to produce Covid-19 negative certificates 24 hours before the event. Devotees and onlookers will not be allowed to enter the temple premises during the festival.
“We agreed to most of the restrictions in the prevailing scenario. But this chorus was not visible during major rallies at the same venue during the elections,” G Rajesh, one of the organisers of the festival, said.
However, DMO K J Reena claimed that the Covid situation wasn’t this bad when permission was granted for campaigns for the assembly polls which was held in a single phase on April 6. “We need festivals but at the same time we cannot play with lives,” she said.
The developments come a day after state health minister K K Shailaja said that planning and preparations for “pooram” had begun much earlier and that it was difficult to call it off now. Temple authorities also had a second thought after the government imposed night curfew for a week from Tuesday.
“Good that the rituals are being held as per tradition. Some of the temple boards suffered badly due to abrupt restrictions. Hope the government will help them,” Congress MP from Thrissur, T N Prathapan, said.
While the main festival is on April 23, thousands attended the flag hoisting ceremonies at Vadakkunnathan temple on Saturday.
Regarded as the mother of all festivals, Thrissur Pooram was cancelled for the first time last year when the pandemic broke out. The largest cultural pageant of the state, Pooram was started in the late 18th century by erstwhile King of Kochi Sakthan Thamburan.
More than two million devotees take part in the 10-day celebration which culminates with a musical ensemble, a parade of caparisoned elephants and grand fireworks.
Meanwhile, the government on Monday announced a night curfew from Tuesday from 9 pm to 5 am and advised people to leave their homes only when necessary. The decision was taken after a high-level meeting chaired by the chief secretary.
Besides this, the government also decided to strict enforcement of restrictions and made it mandatory for all domestic travellers entering the state to undergo RT-PCR tests.
On Monday, the state reported 13,644 cases with a test positivity rate of 15.63%. The active caseload has crossed one lakh (103,004), according to data released by the state health ministry. Kozhikode district topped the chart with 2,022 cases followed by Ernakulam which has registered 1,781 cases.
With 21 fatalities in 24 hours, the death toll in the state climbed to 4,950.