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Pulikali in Pics: Colourful Tiger-themed dance which is an integral part of Onam

By Vishal S
|

Thiruvananthapram, Sep 11: Kerala's hallmark event during harvest festival Onam is Pulikali, the tiger themed street art form. Men painted like 'Tigers,' in bright yellow and black, flood the city roads. The Pulikali, which boasts a tradition of more than 200 years, is a rare display of religious harmony as people from all religions participate in the event.

Men in tiger body art roaming the streets in a feral dance, well-aided by rustic drum beats, is surreal and cannot be fully described in words. The word Pulikali literally means the 'play of the tigers' so the performance revolves around the theme of tiger hunting. This folk art is mainly staged and practiced in the district of Thissur and Palaghat.

Pulikali is said to be over 200 years old tradition

Pulikali is said to be over 200 years old tradition

Pulikali, also known as Kaduvakali is a common sight during Onam season. This dance showcases performers painted like tigers in bright yellow, red and black, who dance to the beats of instruments like Chenda and Thakil. This folk art is mainly performed in the cultural district of Thrissur and thousands pour into the city to be a part of this art.

Performances of the ritual worship dance, Theyyam, are given during the Onam season. In this, Mahabali is played by the Onathar. Its variations include characters such as Oneswaran and Onapottan.

Tiger-themed dance

Tiger-themed dance

At the Thrikkakara temple, every day of the festival showcases one or more of these activities including Kathakali, Thiruvathira, Chakyar Koothu, Ottam Thullal, Patakam, Onam songs, and percussion instrument shows. The Onasadya here is grand in scale, and is attended by over ten thousand people from all religions and faiths.

[Onam: A festival that transcends religions]

Festivities include Puli Kali (masked leopard dance) and traditional dance forms like Kaikotti Kali which are performed in various functions. The official Government celebrations start on this day with heavy illuminations in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode along with fireworks.

Onam an integral part of Kerala's culture

Onam an integral part of Kerala's culture

Most cities in Kerala, such as the political, commercial and cultural capitals, Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Thrissur, are lit up with lights and fabulous displays of fireworks. Sumptuous Onam Sadya feasts are prepared. In Thrikkakara temple, a mega-feast is conducted, which is open to the public and is attended by more than twenty thousand people.

Onam falls in the Malayalam month of Chingam

Onam falls in the Malayalam month of Chingam

Today is Onam 2019 which falls in the Malayalam month of Chingam during August-September. The festival commences on the day known as Atham and culminates on the 10th day, known as Thiru Onam or Thiruvonam, meaning Sacred Onam Day. Onam fosters a spirit of oneness and narrows the communal chasm. More than offering prayers to a particular deity, a common feature of most Indian festivals, Onam is about celebrating the Malayali culture. Despite being a Hindu festival, people from all the communities of Kerala celebrate Onam with enthusiam.

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