02 September 2007

Pulikali - The Story of the Dancing Tigers

'Pulikali' or 'Tiger dance' is a prominent folk art of Trissur, Kerala. Celebrated during the 'Onam' festival (harvest season), hundreds of men from various regional teams dances to the rhytm of the percussionists. These teams accompanied by 2-4 tableaus goes around the city in a procession dancing all their way, entertaining thousands of people gathered to watch them. The art of body painting is intricate in itself and one artist paints on 3-4 men on an average for the occassion. The origin of 'Pulikali' or Tiger Dance has been traced to that of a Muslim folk art called 'Pancha'. It is believed that the tiger dance was first conducted during the reign of the Kochi Maharaja centuries ago by the Muslim officials at the 'Nair Brigade' (army cantonment) in Trissur in 'Moharam' season, which later evolved to its present form. Connection have also been made to a legend in an Indian Epic called Vishnudharmotharam. According to the legend, when the demon king, 'Mahabali' was send to hell ( granting a wish to come back yearly to visit his people in Kerala during the Onam season) by the incarnation of 'Lord Vishnu' called ' Vaamana', an infuriated demon Guru, 'Shukra Muni' sought revenge by unleashing wild animals unto the kingdom of heaven. To resolve the chaotic situation in heaven Lord Vishnu meets Shukra Muni and says that they (the wild animals) can accompany 'Mahabali' during his yearly visit to Kerala and the people will welcome these guests as heartly as they welcome their once supreme ruler. (as told to Jyothy Karat by C Krishnakutty Menon, retired principal of Fine Art College, Trissur) For more details view - http://www.puzha.com/puzha/magazine/html/essay3_sept12_05.html http://www.pulikkali.com/shorthistory.asp http://mutiny.in/category/regional/kerala/