KOCHI: The spectacular parading of caparisoned elephants, the rhythm of percussion instruments, a sea of humanity swaying to the rhythm of ‘pancharimelam’... the splendour and opulence of Kerala temple festivals have attracted tourists from far and wide. And the festival season has dawned with the starting of Vrischikotsavom at Tripunithura Sree Poornathrayeesa temple.
The festival brings alive the memories of yesteryears when Poornathrayeesa was the family deity of Kochi dynasty. The festival showcases the rich heritage of the Kochi dynasty and the temple religiously follows the age-old customs and rituals.
Classical art forms like kathakali, Carnatic music, ottanthullal, kurathiyattom and kolkali are performed round-the-clock on the temple premises, offering a sneak peek into the cultural grandeur of the state. The biggest attraction however is the pancharimelam, which lasts for three hours, where the rhythm of chenda weaves a feverish ensemble with the accompaniment of ilathalam, kombu and kuzhal.
It starts slowly and gradually pick up pace enthralling the audience. As many as 15 performances of pancharimelam led by celebrated percussion artist Peruvanam Kuttan Marar will be held during the eight-day festival.
On the Arattu day, panchavadyam will be performed as the deity starts for Arattu and pandimelam will be performed on his return journey, which marks the culmination of the festival.
“I have been participating in the pancharimelam performance at Poornathrayeesa temple during Vrischikotsavom for the past 24 years and this is the festival I never want to miss. The devotees here understand the pulsating rhythm of chenda and they sway to it. It is a divine experience and I have never witnessed such encouraging crowds anywhere else,” said Anthikkad Padmanabhan, a percussionist.
“The temple and festival have been a part of our life and all our family members residing outside the state will set aside their priorities and attend the festival every year. I had the privilege of overseeing the festivities as the secretary of the committee thrice. This is a festival par excellence and all prominent artists perform here,” said S Anujan Varma, a member of the erstwhile Kochi royal family.