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Kerala tourism Guide



Pulikali or dance of the tigers is a colorful recreational folk art performed during the harvest festival Onam in Kerala. This dance revolves around the theme of tiger hunting where performers are painted like tigers and hunters and dance to the beats of instruments like Udukku and Thakil. This folk art dance is mainly performed in Thrissur during Onam where troupes from all over the district assemble at Swaraj Square for the performance.

Way of excecution and activities Pulikali

Pulikali also known as Kaduvaakal is a 200 year old ancient art form well preserved and passed on through generations. The founder of this folk dance is the erstwhile ruler of Cochin Maharaja Rama Varma Sakthan who wanted to celebrate Onam with something different which shows the wild and macho sprit of nature. The idea behind Pulikali was to blend human and nature in an artistic language. During the colonial era Muslim soldiers of the British army stationed in Thrissur used to celebrate Muharram festival with great fervor and they used to perform this folk art form dressed as tigers and dance with movements resembling the tiger which was liked by the local population. This art form was known then as Pulikkettikali. In the olden days Pulikali dancers used natural paints all over the body but over the years the entire adornment of Pulikali dancers have changed. Today they use readymade masks, cosmetic teeth, beards, tongues and artificial mustaches along with paint and varnish in their bodies. Today tigers also wear a belt with jingles around their waist and moves in a procession, dancing, pouncing and shaking their bellies to the beats of percussion instruments such as thakil, udukku and chenda through the streets.

Similar Festivals

  • Pulikali is performed all over Kerala during Onam festival but mainly concentrated in Thrissur and Palakkad Districts.

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