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Padayani - the soldier's dance

Padayani / Patayani / Padeni is a form of ritualistic temple dance in Kerala, South India that has martial art connotations, and is usually performed in the temples dedicated to Kaali, who is considered a war Goddess.

Costumes and masks of Padayani dance are colorful, but it is the headgear that is exceptionally large and specially crafted. In most temples it is enacted in the evening and the programs go on for about a week.

Padayani is more physically strenuous than ordinary folk dances and trainees have to submit to exacting schedules. Some of the places in South Kerala where the training is given are Gothra Kala Kalari at Kadammanitta (Kadamanitta); Koorampala (Kurampala) Padeni Kalari at Pandalam and Gothra Kala Peedam at Kunnamthanam; all three in Pathanamthitta district.