Kerala is popularly known as the “God’s Own Country” and is rich in its cultural practices and festivals. The people of Kerala follow their gods and goddesses with hardcore dedication. Kerala celebrates different art forms to show their dedication to their beloved gods and goddesses. People of Kerala are devoted to the Mother-Nature as well as they do not miss a chance to appreciate the nature and the gods/goddesses.
Padayani is one of such ritualistic festival. Padayani is the famous ritualistic festival celebrated every year in the Bhadrakali Temples of Madhya Thiruvithamkoor region of Kerala. There are different centres or villages performing Padayani in their own way. Not only the order of performance may vary from each other but even span of days vary from each other. You would also see that the observation of rituals varies from each other. Whatever the case is; this ritualistic festival is especially celebrated to honour harvest, fertility and happiness.
Padayni is the way to please the famous goddess of India, The Kali. Padayani is a true representation of socialist society before the formation of caste system or Aryan intrusion. Padayani defines it all through its combination of different genres like satire, painting, music, dance and many more. February, March and April are the months famous for the celebration of Padayani in Kerala.
Padayani is the yearly ritualistic event recognized in Bhadrakali wats or temples of Main travancore area with due dedications. It may be considered as the continuation of historical Dravidian idea of God and the method of praise, providing Rathi (lust), Raktham (Blood) and Lahari (intoxication).
Padayani follows certain steps till the ritualistic festival ends; for example the introductory step of Padayni is called Choottu Veypu.
Thunchani (coconut leaves) are important part of the introductory step and Choottu itself means the bundle made by the tail-end of each coconut leaves. Beating of Thappu as well as making the “eee-hoo” sounds are the speciality of Choottu Veypu. The “eee-hoo” sounds are especially made to call out for the Devi. Further, Veekan Chenda in a particular rhythm with howling sound is used to wake up the Devil and this is just exactly after few hours of sunset Padayani commences
People in Kerala then wait for certain days after Choottu Veypu to start with Padayani. In some places people prefer to start the occasion with Thappumelam while in some, it is Valyamelam. You will get to see the three main performances of Thavadi, Pannathavadi, Velichappadu. Thavadi includes expertise making footsteps with the rhythmic sound of ‘melam’, while hand movements or gestures do not have much importance during this time and others follow the performer in three folds. Pannathavadi is a comic stage where performers who were expelled from Padayani are shown to try dance steps of Thavadi dancers. Velichappadu is related to comic character. You will also be introduced to the time prior to electronic media or press, through the performance of Paradeshis.
This is considered to be the most ritualistic festival of Padayani and is held for several days. The performances during this festival would introduce you to the powerful deities. This is the time when devotees worship their deities to the fullest.
This event takes place for one day only and is associated with the most loving animal and the most helpful animal ‘Bullock’ as bullock is also associated with most of the farming activities. This is the time; you would also come across the events like Pooppada, Nayattum Padayum, Mangalakolam, Chattathekolam and more.
You would enjoy your journey to Kerala and enjoy Padayani in different ways in different villages. Each event and each ritualistic practice related to Padayani is unique and beautiful in itself. Padayani is one of the most attractive and celebrated festivals of Kerala.