If Onam is a time of Kuttitheyyams in Malabar, towards the southern region it is Padayani that is prevalent. The famous Neelamperoor Padayani in Alappuzha district begins on the day of Avittam after Thiruvonam. It is a ritual that goes on for 16 days and ends on the day of Pooram in Chingam. This is the only Padayani performed in the month of Chingam. All other renowned Padayanis are performed in the month of Dhanu. Just like a battle, people come together and hence the name Padayani. Regionally it is also known as Padeni.
It is believed that the legend of Padayani is attributed to the visit of Cheraman Perumal to Neelamperoor. Perumal who came from Thiruvanjikulam through the lake was mesmerised by the natural beauty of the region and alighted there. Later, he built a palace in Neelamperoor and started to stay there. Perumal dedicates goddess Bhagavathi there. It is believed that Padayani thus began so that Perumal could sit on his palace and enjoy cultural entertainments.
It is believed that the subjects of lord Shiva created ‘kolams’ and danced to appease the irate goddess Kali after she killed Darika. It is believed that Padayani is at least a thousand years old. Padayani begins on the day of Avittam. On Chathayam, youngsters arrive at temple premises. They bring various kolams out including big and small ones. Padayani begins with ‘Kudam Pooja Kali’. On the following days, different kolams continue performing the Padayani. The 15th day is Makam Padayani. The final day is Pooram. By night, kolams are brought as a procession. By 3 in the morning, Neelamperoor Padayani gets over.