Thrissur, the cultural capital of Kerala is all set for the annual ‘Pulikkali’(Tigers play) to be held at Swaraj Round on Thursday as part of Onam celebrations. The women tigresses who took part for the first time in the 200-year-old history of the event last year will be present this time also. According to the organisers, there will be 12 female tigresses. N.A. Vinaya, ASI at Kerala Police Academy, Divya Divakaran, a higher secondary school teacher from Nilambur, and E. Sakeena, fashion designer from Kozhikode, had created history last year by donning pulikkali attire for Viyyur Desam.
Pulikali, or the fun and frolic of tigers, is an event that has become synonymous with the festival of Onam in Kerala. The tigers are not real ones but men dressed and painted as tigers.
As part of the performance, groups of local men would have their bodies and faces painted to resemble tigers. Apart from the true colours of a tiger, one would also come across other colours and patterns and even the facial features of a lion on the bodies of performers. The make-up is time-consuming and it is quite a labour to undo the make-up, which is mostly done with oil paints. The theme of the performance is playing hide-and-seek with a hunter wielding a gun. The event generates a great deal of excitement both for the spectators from near and far and for the performers. With the end of the 'Pulikali' the official celebrations of Onam come to an end.
Pulikkali groups have put up Facebook posts expressing their interest to include the women in the gala. A retired teacher from Palakkad, Ramani, and theatre artist Sujatha will appear as tigresses. “Nearly 20 women expressed their willingness and 12 of them will take part in the show,” said deputy mayor of Thrissur municipality, Varghese Kandamkulathi.
The corporation is giving an aid of Rs 1.5 lakh to all the six teams. It is learnt that as several teams did not get sponsors this year, there was a decline in the number of participants. President of Ayyanthole pulikkalisangam V. Gopinathan said that for each team there would be an expense of about Rs 10 lakh. Without contributions from the public and sponsors, it was difficult to come up with a Pulikkali team, he said.