Thrissur: Had it not been for Covid-19, by now the cultural capital of Kerala - Thrissur, would have been taken over by thousands including foreign nationals who would have descended here to witness the 'mother of all festivals' in Kerala -- the Thrissur Pooram.
However, the entire festivities have been called off and all what happened on Saturday was just a small prayer and that was it.
All the fun and frolic including the massive fireworks display have been cancelled for the first time, on account of the Covid-19 outbreak and the subsequent lockdown.
The Pooram dates back to the late 18th century and was started by Sakthan Thampuran, the Maharaja of the erstwhile Kochi state.
The participating temples include the Vadakunnathan temple, the Krishna temple at Thiruvambadi and the Devi temple at Paramekkavu.
The highlight of this festival is that it happens in the sprawling Thekkinkadu Maidan, the major venue of Thrissur pooram that lies at the centre of the Thrissur town and visitors take their place on the road that runs around these temples.
Among the day long festivities include the breathtaking 'Panchavadyam' in which about 250 artistes from the disciplines of thimila, maddalam, trumpet, cymbal and edakka participate.
The single most visually rich event and the most keenly awaited one is the exhibition of the paraphernalia of elephant decorative, commonly known as 'Aana Chamayal pradarsanam', the spectacular show of 'Kudamattom' in which parasols of myriad numbers, designs and colours are exchanged by the people atop the 30 elephants, of which 15 line up one side and the other 15 on the opposite side and it is a virtual competition between the two sides.
Chenda (a percussion instrument) exponent, decorated with a Padma Shri, Peruvanam Kuttan Marar, one of the most popular person at the pooram, said he is a deeply disillusioned person as he has been taking part in the festival for the past 43 years.
"This is the 22nd time that I am leading the event. I am heartbroken that this time it's not happening. This festival is a proud product of Kerala and one of the most popular festival event. A big loss, is all what I can say," said Marar, who came to the venue with his Chenda and did a solo one for the media.
Jairaj Warrier, actor and stand up comedian who hails from this district who was spotted at the venue had just one statement to make, which portrayed his emotions. "With this event not happening, I feel I have lost some one so dear to me. Now will wait for next year," said Warrier.
The most awaited event of the day is the fireworks display that starts in the night and extends into the wee hours of the next day and once over, the curtains are officially on the year's pooram festivities.