Kudamattam. That is the name in Malayalam of the final spectacle of ten days of festivities. Thousands of spectators cram onto a battlefield between rival temple assemblies. To the north, Thamarakulam Sree Mahaganapathy temple and its allies, and aligned to the south, Puthiyakavu Sree Bhagawathy temple with its vassal temples.
The heaving drone of the melam troupes (comprised of thimila, madhalam, trumpet, cymbal and edakka instruments) reverberates between the two camps. Ceremonial standard-bearers—three to each tusker—hoist dozens upon dozens of ornate umbrellas which have been hand crafted in strict secrecy before the event. In a back-and-forth competition, each team seeks to woo the crowd with ever-more impressive constructions. Radha and Krishna repose on a swing; eagles flap their spans in unison. Teams of Mahouts atop each elephant wave yak-hair pom-poms and peacock-fringed aalavattam shields against the boiling clouds of a late-summer rain.