Monday, June 8, 2009

Kadamanitta Devi temple & Padayani - June 2009

Kadamanitta Devi temple

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Headgears of Padayani displayed at the temple

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Padayani performers at the temple

The Kadamanitta Devi temple in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala, India is well-known for the ten day long Padayani ritual performances held in connection with the annual festival in April/May, the main and more elaborate display being on the tenth day. Padayani is a ritual performing art held mostly in ‘Bhadrakali’ (A Hindu Goddess) temples of south Kerala specifically Pathanamthitta and Alapuzha districts.

The word Padayani fundamentally means group of soldiers, however in this folk art, there is a series of sacred incarnation wearing huge masks or 'Kolams' of different shapes, colors and designs painted on the stalks of areca nut fronds. The 'Kolam' or characters of Padayani will have a huge headgear with mural like paintings, a mask for the face and shields to cover the breast and abdominal region of the performer. The headgear and other accessories of  'Kolams' are made out of areca nut leaf pods or ‘palah’, which is called locally. The edges of these headgears are decorated with coconut palm tender leaves. Paints used in 'Kolams' are all extracted from natural sources. The most significant of the `Padayani Kolams' are `Pakshi', `Yakshi', `Kalan', `Marutha', `Bhairavi' etc. The beating of Thappu, a special kind of drum used in the Padayani, is the specialty on the second day of the festival.

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