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Heli Tourism

Enchanting Kerala


ISSUE: 215

JULY 2011

Neelamperoor Patayani

Date: 26 September 2011
Venue: Palli Bhagavathi temple at Neelamperoor in Alappuzha district.

The vitality and sumptuousness of Kerala is reflected in its countless traditional, folk and ritualistic art forms. Patayani is one such annual ritualistic festival celebrated in the Bhadrakali temples of Central Travancore. Celebrated during the Malayalam months of Kumbham, Meenam and Medam (approximately February, March and April) Patayani is a symbolic act for pleasing goddess Bhadrakali who remains violent after her victory over the mythical demon Darika.

The Patayani festival at the Palli Bhagavathi temple at Neelamperoor in Kottayam district is special for several reasons. The temple has a history of around 1,700 years. The principal deity is Goddess Vanadurga.

The Neelamperoor Patayani is held on the Pooram asterism in the Malayalam month of Chingam that corresponds to the months of August/September. The festival is not quite the one that is witnessed as part of other temple festivals in terms of rituals and ceremonies. The word Patayani literally means rows of army. The one held at Neelamperoor is different from the Patayani performances in other temples.

The festival is a colourful and participatory celebration of life and faith. The distinguishing feature of the Neelamperoor Patayani is the processions of effigies of Swans, Bhima, Ravana, Yakshi and Elephant that are offerings by devotees in gratitude for the fulfillment of their wishes. These deftly decorated effigies also flaunt the consummate craftsmanship of the artists of Kerala.

The Patayani starts with the symbolic sanction of the Cheraman Perumal. For this, the devotees march toward his monument with lit torches of coconut leaves. Soon they start the Patayani, the four-day event. Kudapadayani, consisting of floral decorations in umbrella-shape made from the stems of coconut leaves, follows the next four days. In the next four days, effigies made out of green leaves of jackfruit trees are offered. The Swan (Annam) effigies come on the last two days which are made of plantain stems and slender leaves of coconut trees with floral decorations. The big swan, which is about 45 feet high, offered to the deity, forms the highlight of the last day. Thothakali is yet another fascinating part of Neelamperoor Patayani. It is a rhythmic dance performed in front of the fire accompanied with drumbeats and traditional music.

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