Padeni (Kolam Thullal)

(Presented by –Sree Devi Padayani Sangam-Elanthoor East).

‘Padeni’ the favourite offering of Sri Bhagavathikkunnil Amma. Is performed 3 days before thiruvulsavam.

The ritual marks beginning of Padeni.  The temple priest hands over an oil lamp, i.e., to lit with the fire from the sacred lamp to the Padeni masters.  The Padeni Sangam with devotees welcomes Sri Bhagavathikkunnilamma beating ‘pacha Thappu’ (a traditional musical drum), clamor and voice of melodious chorus of women (vaikurava).  The Padeni master light an indigenous torch light made of dry coconut (choottu katta) with the sacred lamp brought from the sanctum sanctorum.  The Padeni Aashan goes round the temple thrice before reverently placing it on a stone facing sanctum.

The ‘Koottakolam’ performance comprises of’ Sivakolam’, ‘Ganapathikolam’,’ Maruthakolam’, ‘Yakshikolam’, ‘Sundharayakshi’,’ Antharayakshi’, ‘Arackiyakshi’,’Mayayakshi’, ‘Pakshikolam’, ‘Maadankolam’, ‘Kaalankolam’,’ Bhairavi’,’ Bhairavium Kanjiramalayum’, ‘Ninabhairavi’,’ Kanjiramala’, ‘Mangalakolam’, ‘Pooppada’, and ‘Kuthirathullal’.  Kanjiramala and Bhairavikolam is the major attraction of the Padeni festival.  The Valiya Padeni is a major festival that witnesses perforces all the padenikolam including majestic Bhairavikolam.  Usually the Valiya padeni concludes with the artists and devotees singing “Vallappattu” seeking divine blessings.

Kadammanitta village is popularly known as padeni village in Pathanamthitta District.  Kadammanitta is a village with vibrant rustic traditions on the hilly tracts of the district.  It is situated about five kilometers away from the district headquarters.  Kadammanitta is known its ancient Bhagavathy Temple and the ritualistic art form of padeni.  The padeni festival celeberated at the Bhagavathikkunnu Devi temple there attracts a large number of temple art lovers from the different parts of the state and even foreigners every year.  The Kadammanitta Bhadrakali temple is a major center of this temple art form and padeni festival is held every year.  The ritualistic dance of padeni, literal meaning military formation is performed as offering to Goddess Bhadrakali at various Bhadrakali temples in the Central Travancore region.  Padeni is being celeberated every year almost thirty temples of Alleppy, Pathanamthitta and Kottayam Districts.

Ponkala (on the 6th day of celebration)

This is a religious festival.  The name ‘Ponkala’ means “to boil over” and it is a ritualistic offering of porridge made of rice, sweet brown molasses, coconut gratings, nuts and raisins.  Commonly, women devotees participated in this ritual.  Rice, coconut and jaggery are brought by women devotees along with round earthen pots for cooking.  The chief priest of the temple lights the main harth from the divine fire in the sanctum sanctorum.  This fire is exchanged from one oven to another.  On the ‘Ponkala day’ a large congregation of women devotees squat at the temple premises, on roads , footpath, by lanes and shop fronts in a radius of many kilometers to cook the mixture of rice, jaggary and coconut in earthen pots that is offered to Goddess seeking divine blessings. 

Devi is considered to be the mother Goddess of ancient people of Kerala and Tamilnadu.  In India this belief is evolved from the deity “kottave” worshiped on the peak of “Aayiramala”.  During ancient times, the whole people from the nearby villages use to assemble on this hill and stayed there during the entire celebrations lasting for several days.  During this time woman took path in social cooking which was believed to the holly and propitious by the Goddess.  Such social cooking strengthened the bonds between these villages.  This custom is still continue in the form of Ponkala.  Ponkala festival is mainly celebrated at Aattukal Temple, Puthiyakavu, Mulloothara Devi Temple, Kovilvila Bhagavathy Temple, Chakkulathukavu Bhagavathy Temple, Karikayam Temple, Kanjirottu Valiyaveedu Temple, Panekkavu Bhagavathy Temple and Thazhoor Bhagavathy Temple.  The annual ponkala of Aattukal Bhagavathy Temple has been entered in the Guinness Book of World Record as the largest congregation of women in the world.  The festival witness 2.5 million devotees on a single day on March perform the ponkala ritual.  Ponkala Festival at Elanthoor Bhagavathykkunnu Devi Temple is also very famous.  Elanthoor Devi Temple ponkala is witnessed by a set of humanity that has gathered along the

‘Ulsavabali’

It is performed in connection with ten day annual festival.  Hundreds of devotees throng at the Sri Bhagavathikkunnu Devi Temple to take part in this ritual.  The Bali rites starts in the morning.  The chief priest leads the five-hour-long rites.  An Ulsava Kanji (rice gruel), with puzhukku, pickle and pappadam is also served at the temple.  Ulsavabali is performed to the accompaniment of “Pandimelam”.  The temple premises as swelled in its festive ambience has thousands of devotees gather there to witness the ritual.

Pallivetta (an item in a Temple Festival)

Pallivetta

‘Pallivetta’ is a temple ritual.  It is performed on the 9th day of the festival.  The “Thidambu” (idol), will be taken on an elephant in a procession from ‘Aalthara Temple’ to ‘Nagavara’, which is 2.5 kilometeres far from Aalthara Temple and on the eastern side of the main temple.  In the evening, after the temple rituals, the elephant carrying the thidambu and the “Pallikkuruppu”, along with devotees from surrounding four ‘Kara’ (regions) move silently to the sacred palliyaal of Devi and the pallivetta rites will be followed.  After that the devotees of ‘Nagavara’ accord a Royal welcome to Devi with the accompaniment of a spectacular fire work display and the thidambu (idol) is taken back to the main temple in a procession.  At the temple, the thidambu is laid on a sacred silk bed in the Sree Kovil, then the Devi is allowed to ‘Palliyurakkam’ and the temple premises goes to a deep silence.

Aarattu (thiruvulsavam on 10th day)

Aarattu

Sri Bhagavathikkunnu Devi ‘Aarattezhunnellippu’ (procession) starts on the 10th day around 3 p.m. from Sri Bhagavathikkunnu Temple.  After performing customary poojas, the elephant carrying the thidambu (idol) is taken as a procession with the accompaniment of ‘Pambamelam’, ‘Kettukazcha’ (gigantic effigy of bulls), ‘Velakali’ and ‘Ammankudam’.  Then it circumambulates and venerates Sri Mala Deva.  After that, the procession slowly moves forward and reaches Sri Narayanmangalam Dharma Shasta Temple past Palachuvadu, Elanthoor Neduveli Junction, Pariyaram, Elanthoor market and Sri Maha Ganapati Temple.  The Aarattu of Devi (immersing idol in holy water) is done in a holy pond of Sri Narayanamangalam Dharma Sastha Temple. 

The devotees throng all on roads, by lanes, and house fronts and witness this ritual religious fervor.  The procession is taken back amides the devotional chanting ’Amme Narayana’, ‘Amme Narayana’ and ‘Devi Narayana’ and reaches Elanthoor Maha Ganapati Temple. From there, the procession carrying the thidambu proceeds to Sri Bhagavathikkunnu Devi Temple covering a radius of places like Khadi and Village Industries Board, Narayanapuram, Aalunkal padi and Sri Maha Vishnu Temple.  And the Aarattu will be drawn across after performing ‘Seva’ with auspicious poojas,’ Valiya kanikka’ and flag lowering.  The flag lowering ceremony will be held as soon as the Aarattu procession reaches the main temple in the evening marking the culmination of the ten day festival.  The Aarattu procession carrying the thidambu at floodlit temple precincts during night is stunning and spectacular.