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Thrissur Pooram fest begins amid security, restrictions

Thrissur Pooram fest begins amid security, restrictions
The famous Thrissur Pooram festival began here on Sunday with deities of eight small temples arriving in front of Lord Vadakkunathan temple for the annual ritual amid tight security in the light of the Kollam temple tragedy and strict guidelines issued by the Kerala High Court for its conduct.

Thousands of people, including foreign tourists have gathered at the cultural capital of Kerala to enjoy the 36-hour-long colourful Pooram, which will culminate early tomorrow morning with a massive display of fireworks. Tight security is in place for this year's festival in light of the Puttingal Devi temple firework tragedy at Paravoor in Kollam last Sunday, which claimed 108 lives.

There were apprehensions whether the festival could be held in its traditional form after the district administration put a lot of restrictions on organising fireworks and elephant processions in the wake of the Kollam temple tragedy.

People cutting across religious lines and politics rallied behind two private Devaswoms--Paramekkavu and Thiruvambady –demanding that the cultural festival of Kerala be allowed to be held in its traditional form.

The High Court and state government took a favourable position but with a lot of security conditions for organising Pooram festivities of which fireworks at night is one of the major attractions.

Elephant parade and playing of traditional percussion instruments are the other attractions of the Pooram.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala had held a special meeting with office bearers of the festival organising committee and assured them of all safety and security steps to organise Pooram festival without losing the essence of its tradition, beauty and culture.

Earlier, the High Court allowed low-decibel fireworks display at night during the Pooram festival, exempting it from the ban imposed in the wake of Kollam temple tragedy.

Chandy had said after the meeting that government would continue to extend its full support to the festival.

Chennithala said the meeting decided to organise the Pooram as it was organised in previous years.

Thrissur is best known for its Pooram festival and is the most colourful and spectacular temple festivals of Kerala.

Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi Devaswoms conduct the festival on the grounds of the Vadakkunnathan Temple in the heart of Thrissur city.

Animal rights campaigners allege elephant torture at Pooram
Animal rights campaigners on Sunday alleged that the Animal Welfare Board of India experts had been blocked from examining the jumbos, paraded at the famous Thrissur Pooram festival which began today, amid strict guidelines for its conduct.

As many as 79 elephants are being tortured by making the pachyderms stand in direct sunlight as part of the 36-hour-long festival, they said. A team of six veterinarians, appointed by AWBI, were collectively prevented by officials of state Animal Husbandry and Forest Departments along with Thrissur district collector and police yesterday, V K Venkitachalam, secretary of Heritage Animal Task Force, a Thrissur-based animal rights forum, alleged.
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