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Pettathulal, also known as Petta Kettu, is a historic ritualistic dance held annually on 27th Dhanu at Erumely in the district of Kottayam in Kerala. It is performed during the Mandalam - Makaravilakku period (November, December and January) in the presence of thousands of devotees which depicts the joyfulness of people by the slaying of Mahishi by Lord Ayyappa.[1][2] Two groups actively participates in the thullal, one from Ambalappuzha and other from Aalangadu. Ambalappuzha group starts their journey to Erumely on 22nd of Dhanu and a couple of days before the thullal. They visits the Manimala Bhagavathy temple on 25th Dhanu and performs an Aazhi pooja.[3] Before the thullal of Ambalappuzha group, a Krishna parunth (sacred eagle) flies round in the sky. It is believed that lord Vishnu himself arrives from Ambalappuzha Sree Krishna temple on his mount Garuda to witness the thullal.[4][5]

Erumely Pettathullal
Vavar masjid at Erumely
Native nameഎരുമേലി പേട്ടതുളളൽ
EtymologyPetta means market and Thullal means dance
GenreRitual dance
OriginFrom the slain of Mahishi by Ayyappa

Customs in PettathullalEdit

Petta Sastha temple, the starting point of Pettathullal

The fascinating customs of Pettathullal starts with 'Prayashchitham' or atonement which is done to seek forgiveness for the intentional and unintentional sins committed during the vrata kalam (fasting period) by placing a coin and betel leaf on the holy "irumudikettu" or travel kit. The next custom is the offering of 'Pettapanam kettal' or Dakshina to Periyaswami. The kanni Ayyappas are instructed to carry a bundle, tied to a stick on their shoulders which will be filled by vegetables and cereals.[6]

The pilgrims participating in Pettathullal often comes in groups and chants "Ayyappa thinthakathom, Swamy thinthakathom" and dresses like tribes with their body and face smeared by colours and charcoal, along with weapons such as sarakkol (arrow) and mace made of wood.[7] An important custom of pettathullal is that 'Kanni Ayyappas', who are the first timers to Sabarimala must participate in the thullal by holding a wodden made arrow. The thullal is accompanied by various instrumental musics such as Chenda melam, Nagaswaram, Pambamelam and mantras and hymns which is commenced from the Petta Sree Dharmasastha temple (Kochambalam) adjacent to the Vavar masjid.[8] The pilgrims then proceeds to the Vavar mosque and are harmoniously welcomed by the Mahallu Jamaat committee members.[9] After taking a round of the mosque, a representative of Vavar accompanies the group to the Sastha temple (Valiyambalam) which is about 0.5 km from the mosque. The thullal of Alangadu group is held afternoon.[10] As the Ambalapuzha group expected the eagle before their thullal, the Aalangadu group expects a star to be twinkled at the sky before the sunset. The festivities windup by a rotation of the temple by the pilgrims.[11] They abandon the weapons at the temple roof and took a bath at the Peeruthodu river. Both groups lights camphors at the temple and seeks the blessings of Ayyappa to continue their journey to Sabarimala.

The message of PettathullalEdit

Pettathullal is a symbolic representation of a community against the uprisings of Adharma or injustice. By slaying the demoness Mahishi, Ayyappa empowered the people by saying that "Unity is the key to social transformation".


  1. ^ "Erumeli Petta Thullal held". The Hindu. 2015-01-12. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2016-11-25.
  2. ^ "Only Alangad people can participate in petta thullal - TOI Mobile | The Times of India Mobile Site". Retrieved 2016-11-25.
  3. ^ Mathurbhoomi, Sabarimala supplement (2007). The Ambalappuzha sangam. Mathurbhoomi. pp. 59, 60.
  4. ^ "Petta Thullal at Erumely during Sabarimala Pilgrimage Season - Erumeli Petta Thulal". Retrieved 2016-11-25.
  5. ^ "Petathullal". Swamy Saranam. Retrieved 2016-11-26.
  6. ^ "Erumeli എരുമേലി പേട്ടതുള്ളല്‍: ആലങ്ങാട് സംഘം എത്തി - അമ്പലപ്പുഴ സംഘം ഇന്നെത്തും, Mathrubhumi, Kottayam". Retrieved 2016-11-26.
  7. ^ Foundation, Sreyas (2011-12-24). "The Petta-thullal at Erumeli (22)". Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple Information. Retrieved 2016-11-25.
  8. ^ Sree, Ayyappan (2002). Pettathullal. Pattom, Thiruvananthapuram: Siso books. p. 94. ISBN 817797033X – via First edition.
  9. ^ "Petta Thullal | Sabarimala Sree Ayyappa Temple". Retrieved 2016-11-25.
  10. ^ "Erumeli Petta Thullal ritual on January 11 - FacenFacts". Retrieved 2016-11-25.
  11. ^ "Erumeli Petta Thullal,Kottayam City Guide Tourist attractions Kerala". Retrieved 2016-11-25.