Kerala is a state famous for its rich culture and heritage. These rich traditions of Kerala are always reflected in its temple festivals too. Padayani is one such ritualistic performance at the Bhadrakali Temples of Kerala. Also known as Padeni, Padayani is a traditional folk dance of Kerala which is common in places like Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Kottayam.
The word Padayani literally means rows of army. A mix of music, dance, theatre, satire, facial masks and paintings, Padayani can be classified into Neelamperoor Padayani, Kadammanitta Padayani and Othara Padayani.
Neelamperoor Padayani is a mix of colours and cultures. It is conducted at Neelamperoor Palli Bhagavathy temple at Alappuzha. This festival usually falls on the month of August or September. The Padayani in Neelamperoor stands unique with the display of deftly decorated effigies known as Kettukazhcha. At night there will be a colourful procession carrying the effigies of mythological characters like Bhima, Ravana and Yakshi.
The Kadammanitta padayani is performed at Kadammanitta Devi temple in Pathanamthitta district. This ritual is practiced during the months of March or April, from the first day of the Malayalam month of medam to 10th day, known as Pathamudayam. It pays homage to the splendour of the vicious masquerades of the Mother Goddess.
The Othara Padayani is also performed during the months of March-April (Meenam and Medam of Malayalam months) at Puthukulangara Devi Temple, Othara, Pandalam, Pathanamthitta. Othara Padayani is a ten day festival which is unique with the appearance of the Bhairavi Kolam made of 1001 painted areca nuts fronds on the tenth day.