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Onam, one among the festivals of Kerala is generally celebrated with a wide range of traditional art forms. Pulikali meaning the dance form of Tiger is one among the best seen traditional and folk art form in Kerala. It is generally performed by trained artists during Onam festival season in Kerala. Pulikali is generally accompanied with the rhythmic sound of Udukku and Thakil.
Generally, these traditional art forms are celebrated during the fourth day of Onam in Kerala. Performer's body is painted like a tiger using bright yellow, red and black color. Literally the work Puli kali means the dance of tigers. This dance form is given the theme of tiger hunting so as to entertain people.
In which all districts can we see pulikali? This is a common question heard from young generation. This traditional art form is commonly seen in Thrissur district in Kerala. On the fourth day of Onam, you can see this traditional dance forms in Kasargod and Thrissur district. As per research, this art form is found to be originated two hundred years ago during the reign of Maharaja Ram Varma Sakthan Thampuran. This art form was conducted to depict the wild and spirit of force during those years.
Tiger and hunter
Generally, this art form depicts the play of a hunter and beast. Pulikali is also known in the name of Pulikettikali. Today, you can easily get costumes of Pulikettikali from online stores. If searched, you can easily find the costumes of this art forms like readymade masks and cosmetic teeth from stores. Apart from mask and teeth, you can also get ready made tongue, mustaches and beards from stores.
Participant will paint their body with white, black and yellow colored paint so as to look like a tiger. At times, performers dressed like tigers are also provided with a broad belt with jingles around waist. During the fourth day of Onam, you can see different groups of pulikali in Thrissur roads. Each troupe is given a particular amount of money by Thrissur Municipal Corporation. Colorful appearance of participants is a key feature of Pulikali troupe.
Body paint of pulikali
What all are the paints used to make the art form colorful during Onam season? This question is quite common from people. Generally, the colorful paint to apply on the body of participant is given by combining tempera powder, varnish or enamel. Prior to paint application, participants will remove the hair on body. Then the base coat of paint is applied so as to look like a tiger. It will take almost two to three hours for the paint to dry.
To enhance the look of tiger, participants are again coated with desired colors like yellow and black. The entire procedure of makeup will take around seven hours to complete. Pulikali groups, generally termed as sanghams will move around the cities like processions. Participants will dance and pounce like a tiger to entertain people. The main story of pulikali is based on the theme of tiger and hunter. In all sanghams of pulikali, there will be a hunter and tigers to entertain people.