Friday, January 15, 2010

Thrissur Pooram - The Grand Temple Festival of Kerala

Thrissur Pooram happens to be the most colourful temple festival of Kerala. The festival is celebrated in the Thrissur district of Kerala in the Vadakkumnathan temple in the auspicious month of April or Medam. The Thrissur Pooram festival attracts thousands of devotees every year. This year in 2010, the festival falls on 24th April. The festival is a magnificent spectacle with gorgeous processions of elephants, bright fireworks, drum concerts and fancy umbrella shows. The best temple elephants of Kerala are sent to participate in this beautiful Pooram festival.

The amazing fireworks begin around 3 o’clock in the night and continue till 6 am. The festival ends by the afternoon. The beginning of this special Pooram festival is marked by ezhunellippu of the Kanimangalam Shasta. It happens in the morning and then starts the ezhunnellippu of six other smaller temples. Ezhunnellippu is a custom which signifies the visit of Goddess to the Vadakkunnathan temple from the temples of Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi. The word ‘pooram’ means a gathering.

According to the popular belief, the dynastic gods and goddesses of different provinces came together on this day to celebrate. As the locals say the gods and goddesses arrived for this gathering on beautifully decorated tuskers. They also say that on this day Lord Shiva regains power. The Pooram festival is held in the grounds of Thekkinkadu. This mammoth temple festival was started by Sakthan Thampuran (1775- 1790). He was the Maharaja of erstwhile state of Kochi.

The festival is celebrated by two rival groups Thrissur Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi vying, each of which represents two divisions. The rivals are allowed to display only a maximum of fifteen elephants. So, to outdo the other, each group brings along the best elephants of Kerala or South India for that matter and showcase the most gorgeous and artistic parasols. As the Pooram festival draws to a close, the rival groups make their entry into the Vadakkumnathan temple through its western gate and then make their exit through the southern gate before aligning themselves face to face.

This makes for an enchanting visual glory as the two bejeweled rival groups stand in a procession facing each other. The Thrissur Pooram festival is in fact the last day of the Utsavam of nine temples which is an eight day festival. Several Maddalam, Thimila, Cymbal, Trumpet, and Edakka artists add spice to the festive scene with their programs. Pandemelam, a special musical show is also staged and all these talented artistes participate in this program. Then curtains of this festival are finally drawn down by bidding a grand farewell to the deities of Paramekkavu Devaswams and Thiruvambadi.

To become a part of this great festival travel with Paahun. Please check the tour at

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Foreigners Enjoying the International Kite Festival of Gujarat

This January 10, Ahmedabad in Gujarat rolled up the curtains to celebrate its 20th international kite festival with 105 kite flyers and thousands of spectators. Kite flyers from 34 different countries have joined in this gala festival with some 120 Indians. Scheduled to run for five colorful days, the festival has been organized in Uttarayan, on the Sabarmati riverfront.

The festival also coincides with the harvest festival of Gujarat ‘Makar Sankranthi’. January 14 will be the main day of this Gujarat kite festival when people in every neighborhood of the state will fill the blue sky with multicolored and multi-patterned fancy kites celebrating this traditional festival. The other attractions of this festival include loads of adrenaline rush activities as well like para-gliding and para-jumping.

The fairgrounds have been glamorized with kite painting workshops and food courts. PM Manmohan Singh has been invited to inaugurate the kite festival at the City Police Stadium in Ahmedabad. He has also been urged to pay a short visit to the NRIs who will be attending the Uttarayan celebrations. The theme of the kite festival here will be the promotion of medical tourism in India and since Gujarat is an ideal destination for it, the theme seems just perfect. Such great festivals in India sure keep up the good spirit of merry making and even the kite flying enthusiasts from different international countries get to become a part of this gala event either by showing in their creative skills or simply by cheering up as spectators.

More Global Luxury Hotel Chains to Expand their Empire in India

Following the demand for more travel accommodation in the October-December quarter in India, a handful of international luxury hotel chains are competing to expand their empire here. The global hospitality brands are eyeing India as this country is gradually booming as a major travel destination for the leisure travelers and corporate travelers alike. The list of these international brands includes names like MGM Mirage, Fairmont, Regent, Mandarin Oriental, Dusit and Peninsula. Regent will build its luxury hotel in Gurgaon and will open its doors in the late 2013 with 160 rooms.

The company has entered into a deal with Pioneer Urban Land and Infrastructure of India. The brand also hopes to expand its territory to the metros like Mumbai and Bangalore. In the leading cities of India, the room occupancy shot up to nearly 65-70% in the December quarter. This is a steep rise from last year when the room occupancy rate was not even 50%. Expert hoteliers are predicting the rise to keep up in the next quarter as well. To keep up this momentum, the hotels are also offering special accommodation packages with discounts.All these are good news for the Indian tourism industry and with the Indian soils becoming the play ground of these international luxury hospitality chains, India will soon shine bright on the global tourism map.

India Goes That Extra Mile For Security With ID Proofs on Kumbh 2010

All you moksha seekers who are headed for the religious Kumbh Mela 2010 in Haridwar, make sure you pack in your identity proof as well along with your other belongings. This jamboree which starts on January 14 will be there for three long months in Haridwar. The Government has arranged for the tightest security measures to keep a sharp eye on suspicious activities and yes the ultra outfits. The government might even go an extra mile by adding air-surveillance. The holy men visiting the Kumbh 2010 will have to produce a “parichay patra” an equivalent of the regular ID proof. The Kumbh mela is amongst the most awaited fairs and festivals of India.

The fairground stretches to some 130 square kilometers from Bahadurabad to Neelkanth and is expected to attract more than 10 million pilgrims. The first bath in Haridwar has been scheduled on February 14 when around 30 lakh bathers are expected to gather. Especially the Hari Ki Paidi is expected to be thronged my most of the pilgrims on that day. Although this is not a fool proof security measure but we can’t deny that this concept of ID proof indeed is a big achievement. This really shows how India has geared up its security measures and is ready to take up every challenge. This sure gives a thumps up to tourism in the country.