Pettathulal, is a type of joyful dance which is held every year at Erumely in Kerala, by the devotees of Lord Ayyappa. It is conducted during the Sabarimala season (November, December and January) in the presence of large number of devotees, and in this dance festival, the killing of demoness Mahishi by Lord Ayyappa, would be shown in the form of dance and drama by the devotees.
A group of people would begin their journey to Erumely and during their journey they would visit temples like Manimala Bhagavathy temple and performs puja for her. Before the start of the dance and drama, a Garuda bird, would fly in the sky. It is believed that the divine Lord Garuda, Vehicle of Lord Vishnu, itself welcomes the dance and drama festival, also called as Pettathullal, and gives his blessings.Before the Pettathullal, the participants would perform a pujain order to seek forgiveness for the known and unknown sins committed by them during the fasting period, and after that, they would offer some money as Dakshina to the Guruswami.
The pilgrims participating in the Pettathullal would be in groups, and they would keep chanting “Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa” and would dress like tribal people and also would hold weapons like arrow and mace. The thullala re-performed along with various musicians who used to create wonderful noise using Melam and Nagaswaram,
The pilgrims used to visit the Vavar mosque and there, they would be welcomed by the holy Muslims, and after visiting the mosque, they would visit a Sastha temple at Valiyambalam and at that time a star would appear in the sky, and after performing cheerful dance and drama, the holy Pettathullal festival would come to an end.
The devotees would keep their weapons at the roof of the temple, and would take bath at the Peeruthodu River, and would continue their journey to Sabarimala. Pettathullal is celebrated as an act of destroying the evil forces, and protecting the good ones.