Thrissur Pooram becomes topic for doctoral thesis

via www.newindpress.com published on November 18, 2005


Friday November 18 2005 11:19 IST

THRISSUR: It is one of the greatest spectacles. A merry blend of teeming humanity, decked-up jumbos and benign deities; and not to forget that mother of all fireworks display.

Reams and reams have been written on the Thrissur Pooram, and now it has become the topic for a doctoral thesis.

K K Sivadas, a Malayalam teacher at the Government Higher Secondary School, Vettilappara, in Thrissur district, has been awarded PhD by Calicut University for his doctoral thesis ‘Thrissur Pooram: Folk Consciousness and Reality,.

And it’s no run-of-the-mill effort; the research took all of four years and over a thousand interviews. And it took another one-and-a-half years to put it all down on paper, says Sivadas, who hails from Porathissery in Irinjalakuda.

The thesis, which touches all aspects of the Pooram, from its royal past to the glorious present, runs into a mammoth 432 pages.

“The Thrissur Pooram, essentially, is a folk festival set in a modern stage. I wanted to do something different from the conventional folklore study,” says Sivadas.

The beauty of Thrissur Pooram, which is closely linked to the psyche of the people of Thrissur, is that it’s a democratic celebration, he says.

“There are older Poorams. What sets apart the Thrissur Pooram is its location – the Thekkinkad Maidan. The space has been democratized so much. Of course, there has been royal patronage in the past and other encouragement in the present. But it’s the people’s participation that makes it different. Everyone is an actor in it,” says Sivadas.

The thesis begins with the history of poorams in general and moves on to describe the various facets of Thrissur Pooram and its stages of development.

“A major hurdle was the absence of an authoritative work on the behaviour of temple festivals. I relied mostly on Malayalam articles on festivals, personal interviews and western writings on carnivals by Mikhail Bakhtin and Rene Girard,” says Sivadas.

Sivadas recalls several amusing encounters during his work; like the German who was so thrilled by the Thrissur Pooram spectacle that he concluded that Oktoberfest was nothing compared to it.

But the Pooram celebrations have lost the element of uncertainty over the years, says Sivadas. “Now every event in the Pooram is carefully charted out. The ‘uncertainty’, which is an important aspect of a festival is missing.

“But the Thrissur Pooram will continue to grow in magnitude,” he says.

Sivadas, who has also published a collection of poems, plans to bring out his thesis as a book.

“The work has changed my character. I was an introvert, but now I can hold my own with anybody,” he says.

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