The Padayani festival of Kottangal celebrated as Ettupadayani, the last eight days of the total 28 days of the festival begins on Bharani asterism in the Malayalam month of Dhanu (December). The festival ends on Bharani asterism in the Malayalam month of Makaram (January).
At Kottangal, the Padayani festival is celebrated by the people of two Karas (regions) - Kottangal and Kulathoor. During the first day of the last 8 days celebrations, the temple premises will be resonating with the sounds of Thappu (a percussion instrument) and Chengila. On stage, devotees can witness the performance of various Kolams like the ferocious Mahakalan Kolam, the fighting Arakiya Yakshi Kolam, the beautiful Yakshi and finally the embodiment of Bhadrakali’s, Bhairavi kolam. To entertain the audience there will also have comic interludes like Chakkarakudam and Paradesi.
The festival starts with ‘choottuvaipu’ (burning torch made up of dried coconut leaves). Kolam's performance begins on 3rd day with Ganapathi Kolam, which represents the five elements. Mostly performed as a comic interlude, with songs and comic dialogue Ganapathy Kolam entertains the audience. The ritual of bringing the Kolam on stage is known as Kapoli.
One of the important ritualistic functions of Padayani is the Adavi, which happens to be on the 5th and 6th days at Kottangal. On these days Kolams like Kuthira Kolam, Bhairavi, Yakshi, Marutha come to the arena for the performances. Padayani purappadu and chakkarakudam are the two comic characters performed during Adavi. Another noted ritual on Adavi is the Pallippana or Panakkadi, the ritual of breaking tender coconuts and is done for appeasing the Mala daivangal. Udumpukali or Udumbu thullal is another ritual held during Adavi.
The last two days, known as Valiya Padayani, the kolam thullal begins with the Bhairavi kolam and the padayani festival at Kottangal ends with the performance of Kalan Kolam.
Kottangal Vela, the Velakali performance by the young artists, is also held on the last day.