Ayyappan Vilakku is conducted especially in the Mandalakalam which covers the Malayalam month of Vrishchikam and part of the month Dhanu. Ayappan Pattu is a ritual performed by devotees of Lord Ayyappa. Also known as Sastha Pattu and Udukupaattu, the pilgrims embarking on a journey to Sabarimala perform Ayappan Pattu in their houses and temples.
The song begins after striking a rhythmic beat called Ganapati talam on the ‘udukku’. The percussion instrument ‘udukku’ is a small bifacial vessel drum. It is held in the left hand and struck by the right hand. Ilathalam (cymbal) is also played.
The songs rendered are based on the legends of the Pandalam king and Lord Ayyappa, besides songs of Devasuram war and Palazhi Madhanam are also sung. The devotees also dance to the tune. In some parts of Kerala, they jump into burning coal.
Ayappan Pattu is lavishly performed in some places and is known as Ayappan vilakku.Devotees enact on stage the role of Ayappan and Vavar. War-scenes are also staged.
For the Ayyappan Vilakku, a prototype of the Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala is made with materials such as banana stumps, bamboo, and coconut fronds.
The main part of the temple is made with banana stumps, bamboo is used to link the stumps, and the fronds are used to decorate the temple.
On the right side of the temple, Malikapuram is installed, on the left side it is Vavar Swamy, and in one corner, the kannimoola, a Ganapathy temple is built, says Prasad K. Shoranur, an Ayyappan Vilakku organiser and photographer.
The Ayyappan Vilakku is conducted the whole night with various rituals and pujas in a specially constructed and decorated ‘mandapam.'