Netti means forehead in Malayalam and nettipatam meaning forehead decorations on the elephants. Some years ago elephant was a part and parcel of life, they used to be grown generally by the wealthy person only. Earlier elephants were used to transfer the log of wood to required locations, nowadays it is mostly transferred through the machineries. Elephants are an integral part of India during festivals, in other parts of India elephants are painted on their foreheads but in Kerala they are usually decorated with the nettipatam. They are usually made of copper and finished with gold. Nettipatams are mainly put for the male elephants during the festivals that have the elephant pedantry.
Most of the Nettipatams are found to be more done in the Thrissur regions of Kerala in India. It is said by the people of Thrissur that the elephants that usually have the big heads are very happy in wearing this nettipatams during festivals and moving about with it. There are many local festivals were the elephants are made to wear the nettipatams, one of the famous local festival is the Thrissur Pooram. In Thrissur Pooram there will be of about fifteen elephants with the centre elephant (Thedambha Aana holding the images or idol of the deities) that generally wears the Churapooli nettipatam. The left and the right of the Thedambha elephant will wear the Naagapadam Nettipatam and the remaining twelve elephants generally wears the Vandoodae Nettipatam.
Churapooli will have some long decorative designs since it will be put on the long and the biggest elephant. Naagapadam nettipatam will have some symbols of the snake on them and worn to the elephant that is little tall and next bigger elephant to the centre elephant that carries the deity. The Vandoodae nettipatams is said to be similar to the shape of the wasp therefore referred to as the Vandoodae. The Nettipatams for the elephant are referred to as the traditional nettipatams generally made with copper material finished with gold. Nettipatams made of the polymer, plastic material is generally referred to as the trendy or the fancy nettipatams.
It is said as per the Hindu mythology the nettipatam has to have two vatakinan resembling Bagavathi and Saraswathi. Mookanan placed in the middle of the vatakinan resembling the Trimurthi’s (Brahma, Vishnu, Maheswara(Shiva)) and the eleven Chandrakala placed in the descending order resembling the planets, semi circle’s filled through the nettipatam is to be resembling the 33 crore of gods/goddess. This was previously kept in the palaces and the big land owner’s homes, since it was made of the copper giving the gold finish. But few of the craftsmen of Thrissur have transferred this same work to the polymer and plastic material of smaller size with lesser cost, making it available for all the people of the region.