Pattu koorayidal (making a red canopy were kalamezhuthu is done) is the official starting of the Kalampattu. At the centre of a cleaned Paattarangu is placed a Peedam (Tripod), it is covered with a pattu (red silk/satin) and a Vellari (on a plantain leaf a coconut is placed upon 2.5 Nazhi(measures) of row rice) is placed above that with Valkkannady, Vettila (Betel leaf), Adakka (Areca nut/betel nut). And the same and Nellu (Paddy/Rice grain)Avil (beaten rice), Malar, Sarkkara (Jaggery), Kadalippazham (Kadali-Banana (a type of plantain)), coconut etc are placed for poojas. After this the Kururp does the Kooryidal.
With the consent of the offerer, the Kurup starts the programme by making a canopy (Mandapam, Paattarangu or Paattupura) using pattu-koora (red silk/satin) received from the offerer. It is like, the Thanthri receiving land to build a temple. The Kalamezhuthu is a forty-day ritualistic festival beginning with the first of Vrischikam (Scorpio) in most Bhagavathy temples in Kerala. Sometimes there may be a series of paatt at the same Mandapam. So the Koora or the decoration will be removed only after the series. For example Kalam pattu at Kattakampal temple is for 41 days.
The paintings of the Kalam commences with a ritual called Uchappattu (noon songs). After koorayidal Brahmin priest bring a Churika - Churika Ezhunnallikkal, (representation of Deity/a type of sword) from sreekovil to pattarangu and is placed near the Peedam. There is much importance for sword in Kalampattu. Brahmin priest does the pooja to Ganapathy and Churika (representing the Diety to which the pattu belongs). At that time kurup is ready for the Uchappattu. It starts between the pooja.
The singers sit in a thatched shed in front of the courtyard of the temple or the house in which the ritual is conducted. The Kurup who sings Kalampattu uses a percussion instrument (stringed instrument) called Nanthuni with Cymbals (kuzithaalam) as accompaniments. The song goes on without a break round the clock. It starts with an invocation to Ganapathy, the God that clears his devotees’ path of all hurdles, passes on to the story of the confrontation between Kali and her demon-rival, Darika and ends up with the slaying of the demon by the Goddess (called Dharikavadham pattu-only for Bhadhrakali pattu). The whole story of kali till she kills Dharika is mentioned in Dharikavatham. It takes more than two hours.
In kalmpattu for all Deities, Kurup sings Sthuthy at the end of Uchappattu. Sthuthy – The song was in the textual format but kurup sing it with Thaalas and different Ragas. The Kallat kurup sings the Heroic Journeys of imagined Deity in the name ‘Vazinada’ at the end of the Sthuthy. Vazinada – This mentions the names of various temples in the Journey of Deity from Kylasam to Pattarangu.
Sometimes Uchappattu functions are not done separately. It will be jointly done with Kalampattu at night. Ganapathy, Saraswathy, Siva and Sreekrishna are prayed through these songs. With respect to the Deity for which pattu belongs to, the remaining songs are different. After the completion of Uchappattu, Churika is returned back to Sreekovil.
The Paattarangu is decorated elaborately with plantain trunks, with leaves and bunch of fruits, tender coconut leaves, golden coloured tender coconut bunches, mango leaves and flowers. Inside the shed beneath the thatched roofing is a red canopy. The floor is plastered with cow dung. The painting of the Goddess is made on this plastered floor. Nilavilakku is placed at the four corners of Paattarangu. Kalamezhuthu starts by the drawing of Shadkone Chakram using white powder for Ganapathy, at the south-east corner and sarkkara (jaggery) and kadali pazham are placed in ilakkumbil on that.. The Kalam would be completed by evening. The size and dimension of the image of Kalam are decided according to the Deity.
The kalam of Kali is drawn in the sitting posture on a Peedam. Normally, the image of Kali has eight hands with a weapon in each hand – Sulam(Trident), Ghatuamkam(two side sharp sword), Pannakam(Snake), Valu (sword), Paricha (shield), Darikanthala (head of Darika), Kottu mani(bell) and Kapalam(small bowl). For colouring body parts they use green colour. When they drawn two lines of teeth and Dhamishtra we feel the angry goddess. They draw Vassuurikala(scars of small pox) and Thrikkannu on face. Sometimes they draw Kalam with four hand-Sulam (Trident) and Valu (sword) in right hands, and Darikanthala (head of Darika) and Kapalam in left hands.
Kallat kurup draws the image of Ayyappan in the standing posture that is ready for hunting with Bow in his right hand and arrow in his left hand, smiling face with moustache and body colour is green.
Vettakkorumakan image is in the standing posture. Smiling face with moustache and beard, and body is green in colour. In the image weapons are drawn, in left hand Bow and arrow (Ambum villum), and in his right hand Churika (a type of sword). He is an important Deity (deity of hunting), of Kerala’s. When Siva and Parvathy take the role of Hunters, they gave birth to a son who was called Vettakkorumakan.
In Nagakkalam (Serpent) at least two snakes with different patterns are drawn. Nagakkalams are known by the kettukal. Ganapathykettu, Saraswathykettu, Shadkonekettu, Kamazthypeedamkettu, Malarthypeedamkettu, Kavathumpirikettu, Pichakkettu, Alavattamkettu, Thonikettu, Navaghandamkettu, Kolamkettu, Valampirikettu, Thamarakettu, Nalkkonekettu, valiyaganapathykettu, Ashttanagakettu, Paravathanikettu, Pathayakettu, Kappalkettu, Pireampavithrakettu, Konpichakettu, Ashtakonekettu, etc are different kind of Nagaakkalam(serpent Kalam).
Kurup makes the customary picture of the Deity with five colours: white, yellow, black, green and red.
1. White – Rice powder
2. Black – Ash of wheat husk
3. Yellow – Turmeric powder
4. Green- Powdered dried leaves of castor, coral wood, dirris, tree etc.
5. Red – A mixture of turmeric powder and quick lime.
Red colour is used for anger and yellow to the nearest one. Earlier, only three colours were used in kalamezhuth - yellow, white and black. Mixing rice powder with black they prepared green colour (koottu pacha] - will feel as green in presence of yellow light of nilavilakku). But now they directly use and prepare green powder from leaves. In Darikavadam pattu kurup sing that - instead of golden powder they use Turmeric powder, instead of silver powder they use Rice powder and instead of Anjana poddi (black) they use Krishnappodi (Ash of wheat husk). By using these three colours they mix and make it into five colours and prepare Bhadrakalies kalam.
First Kurup draws a rough sketch of the image (Kalam kurikkal) using white powder. Then colours each portion and draws it completely. Ornaments of a rich variety are drawn on the image with coloured powder. Veeralippattu, Thongal, Vella njery, Makara malsyam, Peedam, Peeli thirumudi etc are drawing for special functions. Finally eyes of the image are made in a 3-D way using Valkkannady (this process is called kannumizippikkal). It is similer to maiking eyes by Thanthri while installing a Vigraham(Idol) in the temple. Science then they consider the image has the presence of Deity. Then he draws the crown and Purakkalam.
Marar does the Sandyavela after deeparadhana. Keli, Thayampaka, Kushalpattu, Kombupattu etc. are done according to the budget of the offerer. During sandhyavela the Kurup will be making the Kalam. At the top end of Kalam, a Peedam is placed covered by pattu. Thiruyudayada with Valkkannadi and garlands are placed on that (Peedam Ezhunnallichu vakkal).
Mullakan pattu generally occurs beneath the Banyan tree. Brahmin priest brings the Churika to that place. It was placed beneath the tree and does pooja. Then kurup starts Mullakkan pattu. The songs are same as Uchappattu but with a different tone. ‘Niram’ and ‘Sthuthy’ are sung at that time, Komaram reaches there while the songs end.
When the Kalam is ready the Deity and the Komaram will be welcomed to the Kalam as a procession. Here also according to the budget elephant, melam, and other decorative items can be added to the procession.
Eedum koorum chavittu:
The Kalampattu is associated with some ritualistic dance performances. The dancer is the descendant of a line of ritual dancers, the counterparts of the oracle and the shaman. The ritual dance is known as Eedum koorum chavittu. According to the rhythms of Valam thala (Drum’s-right side), elathaalam (cymbals), kombu, kuzhal (trumpet) etc, the Komaram performs dance steps which is called Eedum koorum. Starting from the thaala - Thripuda, Marar (who plays drums) has the chance to play the Eedu between the first and last according to his taste. Komaram has to recognize this and perform with respect to rhythms. This part is lead by Marar.
Komaram rounds the kalam with different steps and rhythms. Edam thala (Drum’s-left side), elathaalam (cymbals), kombu, kuzhal (trumpet) are the instruments at the time of Kalapradakshinam. After the Chembadavatta thaalam, Marar has to play the drums according to the steps of Komaram, while the komaram can perform with his skills and taste. This part of the function is lead by the Komaram.
Komaram can perform 5 to 21 Pradakhinam (rounding the Kalam) with different steps and rhythms. Eedum koorum and Kalapradakshinam provide a chance to exhibit the skills of Marar and Komaram. Chembada, adantha, chemba, tripuda, panchaari, anchadantha, lekshmithaalam, ekathaalam etc are the thaala used for performing the dance.
After the completion of Kalamezhuthu, ‘Vellari’ (on a plantain leaf a coconut is placed upon 2.5 Nazhi(measures) of row rice) is placed in the north, south, and west sides. It is intended for the Seven-Deities (Sapthamathrikkal). The Brahmin priest is assigned the privilege of doing the first special pooja of the image before the onset of the Kalampattu. After decorating the mandapam a pooja for the Deity is done at that place and that pooja will be completed only at the last stage of the pattu of that day-just before Kalam maykkal (erasing the Kalam). From that moment the presence of the Deity is supposed to be at the mandapam. During the pooja Kurup sings some devotional songs (there are customary songs at each stage to sing).
Many varieties of singing styles like ‘Uchapattu’, ‘Ammana chaya’, ‘Niram paadal’, ‘Kesadipaada varnnana’, ‘Sthuthi’, ‘Katha paduka’ etc are adopted in Kalamezhuthupattu. Mainly there are five varieties of songs with respect to Deity. They are Bhadrakalippattu, Ayyappan pattu, Vettakkorumakan pattu, Nagathan pattu, Kailayam. The song Kailayam is used for the Diety except the above four. Even though, there are separate Sthuthys for Brahmarakshsa, Nela vattari, Kuthyraman etc. The myth behind Bhagavathy Kalampattu is the story of Kali who killed Darika.
Anthipattu (song sung at night) starting with Amanachaya and continues with ‘Niram paadal’, ‘Kesadipaada varnnana’, and ‘Katha paduka’. At the end, before going to Thiriuzichil, song ends with some special songs, this is called Padivakkal. For background music the instruments like ‘Nanthuni’ and ‘Kuzhithaalam’ are used.
The singer has the freedom to change the ragas according to the demands of the situation. Sangarabharanam, Malahari, Madhymavathy, are the ragas they sing. Niram and Amanachaya are two different tunes (can be called a variety raga) they use. There is a Classical Rhythm too in these songs. Tripudathaalam, Ekathalam, Chembadathalam, Muthalam, Adantha and Panchari are the thaalas used in songs. There are mainly three thaalas, Nanthuni can be played. They are Muthaalam, Adithalam, Ekathalam.
After the Kalampattu, Kurup shows Dhoopam to Sapthamathrikal and having Palm fronds (Kavungin pookkula) and offer Thiri. It is a function similar to Sreebhothabali. It is a pooja offering to Ashtadhik palakas namely Adithya, Agni, Yama, Nirarthy, Varuna, Vayu, Soma and Eesanna and to Sevan-Deities (Sapthamathrikkal) namely Brahmi, Vaishnavi, Maheswari, Kaumari, Varahi, Indrani and Chamundi.
Kalathylattam (Kalathil nritham):
The Goddess is believed to enter into the body of the ritual dancer and into the Kalam and the presence is manifested differently in the two media. In the dance, the Goddess expresses herself through the ritual dance, while in the Kalam, she makes her presence felt by its flowing patterns and colures. During the dance Kurup sings devotional songs (there are customary songs at each stage to sing).
Nalikerameru (Breaking of coconut):
It is an important function performed for Kalampattu except for Women-Deities (Goddesses). The number of breaking coconut ranges from 3 to 12008 (Pantheerayirathettu nalikeeramerru). Komaram erases the Kalam, while erasing the Kalam he breaks the required number of coconuts as offering in between till the erasing is completed.
Kalam maykkal (Kalasam):
After breaking coconuts, Kalathylattam continuous and the movements and utterances rise slowly in a crescendo and reach their highest pitch and then abruptly stop. The Kalams or drawings are erased at the end of the ritual to the accompaniment of musical instruments like elathaalam, veekkan chenda, kuzhal, kombu and chenda. To mark the end of the ritual of Kalampattu, the figure of Kali is wiped out, starting from the feet upwards, but keeping the breast untouched.
The powder used for painting the breasts is then worshipfully collected for distribution as Prasadam to the devotees.
The Kalampattu function ends up with kooravalikkal. Kurup take some rice and sprinkled upwards in a worship way after removing the koora.When there are a series of Kalampattu the Koora or the decoration will be removed only after the series.