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Guruvayoor Utsavam is also known as 'Thiru Utsavam', one of the most important festivals celebrated at Guruvayoor Sree Krishna Temple. Guruvayoor Utsavam is celebrated on the 7th Malayalam month 'Kumbham' or Kumbha Masam (February - March). This festival begins on the day 'Pushya' (8th asterism or pooyam star) and it continues for ten days. This year the Guruvayoor Utsavam takes place from 23rd February to 4th March. During all these ten days the place, Guruvayoor is decorated with color lights and has a beautiful look than other days. Utsavam begins with 'Aanayottam' and ends after the 'Aarattu', it is the renovation of 'Chaithanya' to 'Vigraha'. 'Brahmakalasam' is the part of 'Aarattu'. After the 'Brahmakalasam' children below five years old won't be allowed to enter the temple. 'Kanji', a meal is given to all the devotees who attend the Utsavaam during these ten days.
During the Utsavam season, the houses in that area will be painted to give it a new look, buildings and streets will be decorated with lights, arches, etc. Gopurams and roofs of the temple will also be decorated with electric lights and color bulbs. This is a beautiful sight to see. Among these lighting arrangements, we can see the picture of 'devas' and 'devis' which makes it even more beautiful. Many cultural programs are celebrated during this festival season by various groups. 'Chakkyar Koothu' and 'Krishnanattom' are two important art forms performed at the 'Koothambalam' during the festival days.
The first day of Utsavam starts with a pooja ceremony named 'Aanayillaseeveli'. In this pooja, elephants are not included. But in the afternoon 'Aanayottam' (Elephant Race) will be conducted. Aanayottam starts from 'Manjulal', the banyan tree located at the east side of the temple entrance. A number of elephants that are selected early will participate in the race. The running elephants will enter the temple and will take seven rounds. After that, they will touch the 'Kodimaram' at the end. The winning animal will be lucky to get a chance to stay inside the temple for ten days with all the facilities it needs. Another peculiarity is that, it is the winning elephant who gets to carry the 'Thidambu' on important occasions for one year. In the evening, flag hosting is held, this known as 'Kodiyettam'. 'Kodiyettam' is performed after 'Mulayidal'(sowing of seeds). The eighth day of Utsavam is called as the 'Eattam Vilakku', it is believed that none of the devotees should miss any of the meals on the eighth day, including animals. The ninth day is called 'Pallivetta'(Royal hunt), it is believed that during this day Guruvayoorappan goes for hunting wild animals. About 50 people will be dressed as animals, and the Lord will come on an elephant and he will perform hunting. This is just a drama to celebrate this day. 'Pallivetta' represents win of good over evil. The tenth day is known as 'Aarattu'. During this day, the idol of Guruvayoorappan is taken for holy bath in 'Rudratheertha'(pond in Guruvayoor temple), during this time devotees also takes bath in this pond. After that the idol is taken on an elephant, the elephant will run eleven times around the temple and devotees also will run along with this. Finally the flag will be lowered and the annual utsavam will come to an end.