The Padayani festival of Palli Bhagavathy Temple at Neelamperoor in Kottayam district is special for several reasons. The temple, dedicated to Vanadurga, has a history of around 1,700 years. Popularly known as Neelamperoor Padayani, the Pooram padayani festival is held on the Pooram asterism in the Malayalam month of Chingam (mid-August/ mid-September).
The padayani held here is different from the Patayani performances in other temples in terms of rituals and ceremonies. The distinguishing feature of the Neelamperoor Padayani is the procession of effigies of huge and small swans, Bhima, Ravana, Yakshi and Elephant as offerings to the goddess by. These deftly decorated effigies also flaunt the consummate craftsmanship of the artists of Kerala.
The Padayani celebrations begin right after the Thiruvonam asterism and continue till the Pooram asterism which marks the birthday of the Bhagavathy. The rituals of Padayani starts with the symbolic sanction of the Cheraman Perumal situated at the western side of the temple. For this, the devotees march toward his monument with lit torches of coconut leaves. This ritual continues for four days.
Kudapadayani, consisting of floral decorations in umbrella-shaped 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 ixora 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 Padayani. It is a rhythmic dance performed in front of the fire accompanied by drumbeats and traditional music.
Getting there: Neelamperoor can be accessed from Thuruthi Punnamood Junction on the Kottayam-Changanassery MC Road. It's three kilometres through Kavalam Road from Outpost. From Punnamood, one has to take a turn to the right from Essar Pump on Valadi Road