Musical performance at the Chinakkathoor Bhagavathy Temple Procession carrying idols of the bull to the Chinakkathoor Bhagavathy Temple

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Chinakkathoor Pooram, Palakkad Overview

The Chinakkathoor Bhagavathy Temple of Palappuram region of Palakkad district of Kerala witnesses an annual extravaganza of regional art forms and elephants in what is known as the Chinakkathoor Pooram festival. The festival is celebrated on the day of Makam star of Kumbham month in the Malayalam calendar, which will next fall on 19th of February, 2020. The festival is an absolute delight for the onlookers, which is available for everybody to join without paying any cost.

Chinakkathoor Pooram 2020 Date 

The next Chinakkathoor Pooram festival is to be held on 19th February 2020.

Musical performance at the Chinakkathoor Bhagavathy Temple
Musical performance at the Chinakkathoor Bhagavathy Temple
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The Chinakkathoor Pooram festival is observed according to the traditional Malayalam calendar and local traditions of the region. It is celebrated on the day of the Makam star of the Kumbham month of the Malayalam calendar. The Kumbham month is the seventh month of the Malayalam Era calendar and generally falls during February and March of the commonly followed Gregorian calendar. Due to the observance of Chinakkathoor Pooram according to the Malayalam calendar, its dates vary in the Gregorian calendar each other. 

Chinakkathoor Temple - Where the Celebrations Take Place 

Procession carrying idols of the bull to the Chinakkathoor Bhagavathy Temple
The procession carrying idols of the bull to the Chinakkathoor Bhagavathy Temple
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The Chinakkathoor Pooram festival is one of the many temple festivals celebrated across the states of South India. It is carried out in Palappuram, which is situated near the Ottapalam Taluk of the Palakkad district of the Indian state of Kerala. The major part of the celebration takes place in and around the Chinakkathoor Bhagavathy Temple. However, processions are carried out through the streets of the area, and people gather in massive number to join the parades. The march of the elephants through the streets drives people from across the country to participate in the festival.

How is the Chinakkathoor Pooram Celebrated? Temple Traditions

The Chinakkathoor Pooram procession
The Chinakkathoor Pooram procession
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The Chinakkathoor Pooram is a festivity which has elephants as its defining feature and is celebrated each year in the month of Kumbham of the traditional Malayalam calendar. The Chinakkathoor Bhagavathy Temple, situated in Palappuram of Palakkad district in Kerala, is the centre of the celebrations.

The celebrations go on for seventeen days in the month of Kumbham, when a set of spectacular events are carried out, including puppet shows, a magnificent display of the temple orchestra, and ceremonial bringing of adorned models of horses and bulls into the temple. However, the centre of attraction of the Chinakkathoor Pooram is the parade of the tuskers, which constitutes a large procession of 27 elephants through the streets of Palakkad.

Chinakkathoor is one of the two temple festivals that take place in the northern part of the Indian state of Kerala, the other being Thrissur Pooram. Chinakkathoor Pooram, being a temple festival, is celebrated mainly in the compound of the Chinakkathoor Bhagavathy Temple. Various events are constituted in the celebration of this festival, all representing the cultural heritage of the region.

The Art Forms

Numerous traditional art forms are performed in the temple premise during the celebrations. The people of the region have kept their traditional forms of art alive by making a soulful show of them on an annual basis during the Chinakkathoor Pooram festival. The various art forms that are performed during the festival are Vellatt, Theyyam, Poothanum thirayum, Kaalavela, Kuthiravela, Aandi Vedan, and Karivela. These are all ancient traditional art forms ranging from a ritualistic painting of one's face with charcoal to please the divinity to typical dance forms of the region kept alive by the local artists and are performed on the music produced by the temple's orchestra, known as the Panchvadyam.

A puppet show is also the core part of the Chinakkathoor Pooram festival. The traditional exhibition of Palakkad is known as Tholpavakoothu. The Tholpavakoothu shows are organized in the evening time, within the temple's compound, for seventeen consecutive days. The puppet show ends only on the day of completion of the Chinakkathoor Pooram festival.

Processions

The most spectacular events to take place during the Chinakkathoor Pooram festival is the procession of the elephants so much so that the elephant march has become synonymous with the festival itself. A grand procession of twenty-seven well-built tuskers, accompanied by a large number of devotees, is taken out through the streets of the Palappuram. It makes for a magnificent view for the onlookers, attracting people from far distances to participate in the festival for the sake of the procession.

There is one more procession that is carried out during the Chinakkathoor Pooram festival. This includes a ceremonial carriage of sixteen decorated models of horses, known as Kuthira, and eight models of bulls, known as Kaala. These models are carried in a procession by the devotees and are finally brought into the Chinakkathoor Bhagavathy Temple.

Who are the Observers

The people of Palappuram in Kerala celebrate Chinakkathoor Pooram festival in the Palakkad district. The various communities residing in different areas of the region known as desams, and are seven in number come together to celebrate the Chinakkathoor Pooram festival. 
 
The different areas that participate in organizing and celebrating the festival are Ottapalam, Pallarmangalam, Palappuram, Erakkottiri, Meetna, North Mangalam, and South Mangalam. All these communities join hands in making the festival successful and well-organized one, which protrudes the rich cultural heritage of the region. The observers put aside their caste, creed, and religion and wholeheartedly take part in the celebrations that take place, primarily, in the Chinakkathoor Bhagavathy Temple. 

How to Reach Chinakkathoor Bhgavathy Temple

To reach the temple by train, the nearest railway station is the Ottapalam Railway Station, which is situated at an approximate distance of 5 kilometres from the temple. The Ottapalam station is a major railway station and is located between Palakkad and Shoranur. To reach the temple through airways, the nearest airport is the Coimbatore International Airport, which is located at an approximate distance of 90 kilometres from the Chinakkathoor Bhagavathy Temple, where the celebrations are held.
 
Traditional dance during Chinakkathoor Pooram
Traditional dance during Chinakkathoor Pooram
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Among the many procession festivals taking place across India, the Chinakkathoor Pooram festival happens to be one of the most significant ones of them. It is an occasion when the traditional art forms of the region find a vast audience, and authentic cultural heritage of the state of Kerala in general and that of Palakkad, in particular, is presented to the onlookers gathered in massive numbers. Moreover, the festival brings together people of different castes, creeds, regions, and religions, who come together and put their sincere efforts together in making the festival a success.

The Chinakkathoor Pooram festival happens to be a significant temple festival of northern Kerala, which produces such spectacular scenes which are indeed a loss if one is around at the time of its celebration and does not get to attend it.     

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