The Velans as well as Vannans and Malayars of Cannanore district were the original dancers of 'Theyyam' or 'Kaliyattam', which is a highly ritualistic dance with its rare and grotesque make-up and costume, lively foot work, gymnastic fervour and ritualistic vitality. 'Teyyam' represents a glorious period of folk life in Kerala and the souls of the dead heroes of the land and the gods and goddesses are supposed to come in our midst through the medium of the possessed dancers and converse with us on matters of even, contemporary significance
There are many legends connected with the performance of Pallippana at Ambalappuzha Temple.
One of them is that the first Pallippana was performed by Siva. Due to workload, Vishnu became unconscious. To wake up and rejuvenate the Lord, Subrahmanya, the god of Astrology suggested that Pallippana should be performed. Velas are required to perform the ritual. The entire world was searched for Velas, but none could be found. Then Siva appeared as a Velan and Parvathi as a Velathi. They performed the ritual and Vishnu was revived.
It is believed that Puranatis are Siva's Bhutaganas. It is said that when Siva and Parvati performed the first Paliippana, the Bhutaganas acted as guards in the guise of Puranatis.
The Saiva musical instruments, Para and Tuti are played when the songs are sung. All the songs begin with the praise of Siva such as
The Lord wearing the Moon / The Lord with the fiery eye/ The daughter of the Mountain, her son, Nandikesa and Ayyan / Please come and protect us.
Performance of the Ritual:
To perform Pallippana, a special stage is constructed at Ambalappuzha. On the south east side of the temple tank, facing the stage, huts are constructed for the Velans who perform the rituals. Six huts are constructed at the front side. Cempakasseri, Koyikkal, Kunnankari, Eramunda, Nettasseri and Ambalappuzha are the six Kuuttati families entitled to perform the rituals. Behind these huts, other huts are made for Ganakan and Mannan. A special hut is made for Ambalappuzha Panikkan, who is an important functionary.
The head priest orders the Kuuttatis to start the Oattu. Uzhichal (caressing) is performed thrice during the day reciting Siva's names.
Performance of Muroattu:
The Velathis perform Muroattu. Muroattu begins as A Velan who knows the truth/ Performed the pana and / recited the murayorttu.
In Pallippana, Muroattu is more important.
During Muroattu, Maparatam Patttu is sung by the Velathis. The story is summarized as follows:
Bharata Malayi, a servant of Pandavas is worried that her husband, Bharata Malayan, has not returned since seven days. Losing her patience, she sets out along with her son, looking for Bharata Malayan. On the way, she sees him coming carrying a large bundle. Malayan tells Malayi that the bundle is full of gifts. Malayi questions him about the items in the bundle. Malayan replies that he performed Oattu at the place where his lords (Kauravas) and her lords (Pandavas) had assembled for hunting. The gifts were