Onam is a busy time for people in Thrissur. If the preparations for the festival take up the first couple of days, the Ona sadya, the Kummattykali and Pulikali take up the days after Thiruvonam day. And one follows the other - in quick succession. The taste of the sadya and discussions about it would not have got over when the Kummattykali begins. The memories of the Kummatty was still fresh when the tigers take over Swaraj Ground today.
And the men dressed up as tigers stole the show. The music, the dance moves, the men transformed to tigers on the road.
The artist who dresses up as a puli would have a huge pot belly on which tiger face is painted in vibrant colors. Waist band made with small bells produce a rhythmic music as the ‘puli’ dances merrily to the tunes of the drums. The tiger masks worn by the artist completes the look and they are ready to thrill Thrissurites.
There are six teams taking part in this year’s Pulikali and are busy with their last minute preparations. The teams try to bring unique touches to their ‘puli’ every year in their embellishments and the dance steps. The huge pot bellied artists are the real entertainers as their jiggly bellies painted in myriad shades.
‘Pulichamayam’ or embellishments and adornments of pulikali are exhibited at Banerjee Club prior to the performance. Around eight hundred tigers would enter the Swaraj Round tomorrow accompanied by the rhythmic beats of chenda(drum), thappu and ilathalam. ‘Puli’ in fluorescent colors and LED eyes are sure to attract the audience. The teams vying for the trophy have kept many special ‘items’ in store for the whole world to see in its full grandeur.
The six teams competing in this year’s pulikali are Kottapauram, Viyyoor Central, Kanattukara, Naykanal, and Vadakkei Angady. Each team has 30-50 artists dressing up as puli. This year there will be 12 female puli as well. Click here to read about their trip to the Zoo to see a tiger.
It's a costly affair
This age old art form which defines the cultural set up of Thrissur is facing challenges due to financial constraints. The adornments and other materials cost a hefty sum, and many teams find it difficult to pay off the debts from even previous years. Though the old the young share the same amount of excitement and enthusiasm for this art form, money issues are a setback. This is evident from the fact that only six teams are participating this year even though the corporation has raised the amount of the prize money significantly.
Also read: Where to go, where to eat and where to stay in Thrissur