Over 30 prominent figures from the literary and intellectual space in Kerala have released a joint statement asking the state government to cancel Thrissur Pooram celebrations in 2021. Thrissur Pooram is slated to be held on April 23, despite the rising COVID-19 cases in Kerala.
“It would be irrational to hold Thrissur Pooram at a time when the district (Thrissur) is crossing 1000 new COVID-19 cases daily, and has a Test Positivity Rate (TPR) of 20%,” the statement says. The positivity rate on tests is the percentage of tests that return positive, among a group of people. For example, if 100 individuals, who are suspected to have contracted the virus, are tested and only two persons test positive, then the test positivity rate is about 2%.
The statement also added that Pooram is celebrated by people coming together from many places. “We are living in a scenario where a pandemic makes such gatherings work against the population. As the number of people affected by COVID-19 continues to rise, we may even face a shortage of oxygen and medicines,” the statement explained.
The statement also adds that it would be impossible to hold the Pooram by complying with COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing. It would also lead to police using excessive control, it says. “Pooram has a history of being limited during times of famines, wars and other crises. We urge the Pooram administrators and the government to take a prudent and socially responsible decision to postpone Pooram during this epidemic,” the statement read.
The letter was signed by prominent poets and writers including KG Sankara Pillai, poet, novelist, short story writer and columnist Kalpetta Narayanan, MK Gopinathan Nair popularly known by his pen name Vaisakhan who is now the President of the Kerala Sahitya Akademi and K Venu, political, social activist and communist thinker among others.
The Thrissur Pooram is the largest Hindu temple festival celebrated in Kerala every year, in terms of the scale of attendees. On average, the Pooram attracts two million people from across districts. In 2020, the Thrissur Pooram was cancelled following the nation-wide lockdown imposed by the Union Government to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country. With the second wave of COVID-19 hitting India and rising cases in Kerala, several activists and members of the public have questioned the state government’s hestiation to call off the Pooram.
Report by Chetali S M
Reported on – 19/04/2021