A week after Kollam tragedy, stage set for more fireworks

While the High Court had, in the aftermath of the Kollam accident, banned use of noisy crackers at night, on Thursday the court gave conditional permissions to the organisers — Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu temples.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: April 17, 2016 6:52 am
 kerala temple tragedy, puttingal devi temple fire, rules violated at kerala temple, reason for fire at kerala temple, culprits of puttingal temple fire, temple fire reason Workers prepare fireworks for the week-long Thrissur pooram. Anup K Venu

As men scooped out soil to make the pits perfect to position the cylinders carrying amittu, a kind of firecracker, at Thekkinkadu maithan in Thrissur, policemen stood guard at makeshift asbestos-roofed sheds nearby. Those sheds stock huge quantities of fireworks, which will be lit up late Sunday night, before the week-long Thrissur pooram — by all accounts an amazing show of light, sound and visuals held annually in Thrissur, the cultural capital of Kerala — winds up on Monday.

Coming exactly a week since the festivities in Kollam turned tragic, with explosions sparked by the fireworks display leaving 108 people dead, and many more maimed and injured, the Thrissur festival is being closely watched this year. That hasn’t managed to douse the enthusiasm, however.

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While the High Court had, in the aftermath of the Kollam accident, banned use of noisy crackers at night, on Thursday the court gave conditional permissions to the organisers — Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu temples.

Bringing further relief for pooram enthusiasts, the state Forest Department, which had introduced restrictions on parading elephants at day during the week-long festival, was forced to step back in face of protests from various quarters. Admitting that the restrictions have “created resentment and unhappiness”, Kerala’s Chief Wildlife Warden, G Harikumar, said, “The Forest Department does not want to hurt any religious sentiment and will provide all cooperation…”

The parade of elephants and drummers have been an integral part of the pooram, which, according to legend, was started in 1803 by the then king of Kochi state, Sakthan Thampuram. While Heritage Animal Task Force secretary V K Venkitachalam said the parade is cruel towards the elephants, which have to “stand for nearly 36 hours, and there have been incidents in which animals had collapsed” in the heat, devotees said there would be a huge uproar if decibel levels of fireworks are reduced or people kept away from the elephants on parade.

As per customs, a “divine durbar” will be held on Saturday evening on the ramparts of southern gopuram of Sree Vadakkunnathan temple, in which 15 decorated elephants of the two organisers will stand face to face, 100 meters apart, amid an ocean of people. Explaining the excitement, Sudhir Kumar, who works in Doha and has flown down to Thrissur to take part in the festival by “syncing my annual leave to this season”, said the silk parasols (shades) on the elephants are changed every minute with one of a different hue, the peacock feather fans are held aloft and yak tail bunches waved to the tunes of accompanying orchestra — “these are scenes one cannot find anywhere else.”

Pooram competitions are divided between Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu temples.

For the first time, the government has put a ceiling on quantity of explosives to be used. In the past, the two devasowms (temple trusts) would each use nearly 7,000 kg explosives. This time, they have been asked to use 2,000 kg each, government officials have taken control of the storage places for firecrackers, and security has been stepped up at Thekkinkadu ground, venue for the fireworks pyrotechnics.
Thiruvambadi Devaswom Board president Prof Madhavan Kutty, however, said, “The government has issued certain guidelines, which we don’t want to term as restrictions. There are rules…(but) these rules will not take the sheen out of the pooram.”

He said the the two temple boards will stick to the government’s permitted use of explosives, and will ensure safety and ample water supply for the elephants.

 

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  1. M
    Maran
    Apr 17, 2016 at 5:02 am
    The banner headline is fraught with mischief. It implies that the victims of the Kollam tragedy have been cast aside and , despite their sufferings, more sufferings will come out of the fireworks.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;There have been hundreds of train accidents, bus accidents, building collapses et al. But one does not write," A day after the accident, more buses on the road'... implying that the authorities are callous to human suffering. The proper way is to increase safety measures and implement them, rather than ban the fireworks.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;the author clearly implies that the fireworks must be banned. He does not review whether the safety measures have been increased ect, which will help safety. There is no suggestion on helping with safety, in his article, no positive input.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;In a democracy, public opinion is a driving factor. And clearly, the public want the fireworks. So, what should one do? Increase safety measures, and not ban the fireworks.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Fireworks display is a regular part of celebrations in China, Australia, England, USA et al. We need to study them and improve implementation safelylt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;The writer is not bothered about genuine improvement of the system. He wants sensationalism, and a negative feeling about authorities and all responsible, while he , who makes a living, by criticising and not contributing , manages to spoil the atmosphere further. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;He himself goes on to speak of the public mood in his article as being favourable to the fireworks. God save such writers who revel in creating divisions....even by provocative headlines itself...lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Maran
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    1. H
      HILARY
      Apr 17, 2016 at 7:25 am
      These are adult human beings doing what they want to do and a judiciary and government enforcement going along with that. If accidents happen and lives are lost it is their business. Outsiders have no locus standi to intervene or comment.
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      1. V
        Vasudevan Venugopal
        Apr 17, 2016 at 3:39 pm
        "Bringing further relief for pooram enthusiasts, the state Forest Department, which had introduced restrictions on parading elephants at day during the week-long festival, was forced to step back in face of protests from various quarters. Admitting that the restrictions have “created resentment and unhappiness”, Kerala’s Chief Wildlife Warden, G Harikumar, said, “The Forest Department does not want to hurt any religious sentiment and will provide all cooperation…”, while Heritage Animal Task Force secretary V K Venkitachalam said the parade is cruel towards the elephants, which have to “stand for nearly 36 hours, and there have been incidents in which animals had collapsed” in the heat. The Chief Wildlife Warden will "provide all cooperation" for what?
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        1. Y
          yash sehgal
          Apr 17, 2016 at 1:19 am
          Wonderof the wonders..kerala hs just seen a worst tragedy will fire works with 112 dead n more than 300 injured/ maimed.. But still they like more to experiencelt;br/gt;N kerala is India's most educated state..lt;br/gt;Een eill people learn
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