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Padayani - a Ritual Art in Kerala

A ritual art of Kerala — Padayani (patayani) is enacted in many temples of the southern districts of the state. It is slightly war-like in its tone and steps and the highlight of the padayani dance costume is a huge and elaborate headgear called the kolam, made from painted coconut spathe. The characters of the dance are noted by the kolam they wear which is known variously as Yakshi, Pakshi, Kuthira, Kalari, Gandharvan, Maadan etc.

Padayani is said to have been performed to appease a seething mother goddess even after she had stain a demon. On seeing the highly caricaturish masks and headgear of the Padayani artistes the goddess is said to have burst in to laughter and cooled down. This form of martial ritual art is performed during the months of February, March and April.