Pulikkali is a unique Tiger dance and attractive recreational folk art of the state of Kerala. It is beautifully performed by expert and trained artists in order to entertain people especially on the occasion of Onam festival. The dance is performed by participants who put a lot of hard work blended with dedication and commitment on the fourth day of Onam related celebrations.
The participants of Pulikali paint their body like tigers plus hunters. The color that is mainly used by the performers is bright yellow, black and red. The dancing steps are performed as per the beats of instruments such as Thakil and Udukku. The theme of Pulikali is based on tiger hunting and its related affairs. So it can be also said as the play of the tigers. This particular folk art is primarily practiced in the district of Thrissur, in the state of Kerala. The best and special place in order to watch the grand show of Pulikali is on the fourth day of Onam at Thrissur. It is a place where Pulikali enthusiastic troupes from nook and corner of the district largely assemble in order to display their special skills and talents. This festival and its festivity attract nearly thousands of people and foreign and domestic visitors to the cultural capital of Kerala that is the city of Thrissur. It is to be remembered that this art form is also successfully performed during several other festive seasons of this region.
History of Pulikali
The Pulikalli’s origin dates back to approximately 200 years ago. It was the time that this region was ruled by the Maharaja Rama Varma Sakthan Thampuran who was the then Maharaja of Cochin. This art form was introduced as a folk art in a successful manner. It was considered as part of Onam that largely reflected the macho and wild spirit of the powerful force. It is to be higly noted that this particular art form was also popular among the Muslim soldiers who were part and parcel of the British army that was stationed in the city particularly in the Pattalam road. They perfectly popularised this particular folk genre with body language and unique steps that are peculiar to a tiger largely being stalked by an enthusiastic hunter. They added a play rightly enacting the role of the beast and the hunter.
Specialities of Pullikali
In the perfect adornment of Pulikkali dancers, there have been vast changes over the years in a successful manner. In the open market, the accessories and other items required for Pulikali performers are readily available at an affordable and reasonable rate and for hire for a day. The items of Pulikkali that are in demand are beards and mustaches, tongues, cosmetic teeth and ready-made masks. The locals along with foreign and domestic visitors encourage the performers of Pulikali with their applauds with lot of perfection and thrill. It is an art form that is very unique of this region and that is close to the hearts of the local people in general.