48 kms north of Thiruvananthapuram
is noted for its Gajamela or Elephant pageant. Over 50 elephants are taken
out on a ritual procession on the tenth day of the festival (February-
No celebration in Kerala is complete without an elephant pageant. The gentle giant has been revered like divinity and accorded the privilege of escorting the numerous gods and goddesses of this land. Until a few years ago many well-to-do families in Kerala owned an elephant which was considered a member of the household.
Most festivals of Kerala feature spectacular elephant processions. The pooram and vela festivals are the best occasions to watch the majestic tuskers in all their caparisoned splendour. Colourfully decked up elephants numbering fifteen to hundred or more line up on the temple premises. With mahouts atop them, holding high tinselled silk parasols (muthukuda) and swaying white tufts (venchamaram) and peacock feather fans (aalavattom) to the rhythm of the temple orchestra.
An elephant pageant is usually accompained by the panchavadyam (the traditional five instrument musical ensemble) which works up to a frenzy as the kudamattam ritual (the synchronised changing of the parasols atop the tuskers ) gathers speed.
Another unique practice at this temple is that elephants are offered as Nercha (ritual offering to the deity for prosperity) by the devotees. Cultural programmes are held during the festival days. The temple is dedicated to the goddess Bhadrakaali.