Performed at a few temples in the Central Travancore region, Padayani is a ritual art form. During the dance, the performers attain a frenzied trance which culminate in extremely vigorous movements. It is a symbolic act for pleasing the goddess Bhadrakaali and bringing her out of the violent mood after her victory over the mythical demon Darika.
Padayani is performed during a week-long festival at the Kaali temples during March/ April. It is accompanied by songs and percussion instruments like Thappu and Chenda. Kadammanitta, Kadalimangalam, Neelamperur and Othara temples in Pathanamthitta are famous for annual Patayani performances.
Equally interesting is to watch the villagers effortlessly making the Kolams or the masks worn by the Padayani performers. Kolams are made out of fresh spathe of the arecanut tree. They are designed by the members of the Ganaka community and executed by a group of villagers. To keep the freshness of the spathe all the kolams are made just before the performance. The biggest one, representing the goddess Bhadrakaali, is made of 1001 pieces of spathe and is carried on wheels.
The other Kolams include Kalari, Pakshi, Yakshi, Kuthira, Maadan, Gandharvan, Marutha and Apasmaram. The Kolams are for one-time use only.