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The pettathullal ( ritual dance performed at Erumeli) is the most important function in the pilgrimage before the ‘ Makaravilakku’.
The two troups from Ambalapuzha and Alangattu have been conferred upon with a special status and importance. They are the last to arrive at Erumeli for the Pettathullal. They are also accorded some special privileges at Erumeli, Pamba, and the temple premises of Sabarimala. Troups of Ambalapuzha is given the first opportunity for the Pettathullal at Erumeli and has the right to serve ghee and milksweet ( Palpayasam) in the feast at Pamba. They light the special lamp of ghee at Sabarimala and have th special right to set up camp on the righ side of the shrine. Thy are also endowed with the right to mark a crescent on their ‘ Irumudikkettu’.
Tere is a legend behind the ‘ pettathullal’ performed by the Ambalapuzha pilgrims. Leaving the place at Pandalam Ayyappan set out on a tour of the land. One day he arrived at purakkattu. This place was in a state of terrr struck by gang of plunderers and murderers whose chief was Vavar , a muslim. Ayyappas next stop over was at a house called Cheeappanchira in Cherthala. The master of the house joined his troupes and offered them all facilities for training in arms. Ayyapan who was born for the destruction of Mahishi sought co –operation of other schools of a material arts in different localities but quiet a few refused. But the troop of Ambalapuzha stood with him till the end. The troop of Alangattu was invited a second time but they evaded him. That is why they attire themselves like a kings attendants to participate in the pettathullal. But the Ambalapuzha troop attire themselves with twigs, leave sand paint themselves with kunkumam, sindoram, and bear a brutal visage for the pettathullal. There is an old saying that the Ambalapuzha troop were close to Ayyappan and the Alangattu troops were far from him. The Ambalapuzha troop do not pay for the ghee anointing ritual. They are also exempted frompaying for the appam and aravana. They are entitled to camp on the north eastern part of the eighteen steps .
The Ambalapuzha troop arrive at theBhagavathi temple at Manimala where they perform the ritual of fire worship. The pettathullal at Erumli starts only after the noon worship is over at the Ambalapuzha temple. The participants in the ‘thullal’ are overjoyed at this when the Paranthu swoops down and fly at a lower attitude , the second stage of the thullal begins from Ambalapuzha dedicate themselves body and soul to Bhagavan. When the troops reach the decorative lower of the greater temple, dancing all the way to the accompaniment of immaculate band music, they are received by the authorities and led to the courtyard of the temple. the devotees troops of ambalapuzha hold the feast at pamba on the day of the winter solstice ( Makara sankramam) and accompany the procession of Malikappurathamma before they turn to go home Sri. Ayyappan , pleased with their stead fastness in keeping up tradition in every steps of their pilgrimage blesses them.