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Puli Kali – Folk Art from Kerala

Pulikkali or Puli Kali – Folk Art from Kerala

Pulikkali or Puli Kali is a historical folk art in the state of Kerala. ‘Puli’ means Leopard / Tiger and ‘Kali’ means Play in Malayalam language. Puli Kali, seasonal folk art performed by trained artists to entertain people on the occasion of Onam, the annual harvest festival of Kerala. Onam is considered as the national festival of Kerala, and the celebrations of Onam festival ends with the Puli Kali at Thrissur.

Puli-Kali-Pulikkali-An-Artist-painting-on-the-body-of-a-participant

Pulikkali – An Artist painting on the body of a participant


History

Literal meaning of Pulikkali is the ‘play of the tigers’. Pulikkali is practiced in Thrissur district in Kerala. Thrissur Pilikkali originated over 200 years ago. It believes that King Rama Varma Sakthan Thampuran introduced the folk art Pulikkali to celebrate Onam. Participants painted their body with yellow paints and black stripes. Face of tiger is painted on the belly of the participants.

Puli-Kali-Pulikkali-A-lady-who-joined-with-the-artist-to-paint-the-body

Pulikkali – A lady who joined with the artist to paint the body


Day and Month of the Performance

Puli Kali is performed on the fourth day of Onam celebrations. Date of the Pulikali performance is changed in every year.

Groups Participating in Thrissur Pulikali

Kottappuram, Kanattukara, Ayyanthole, Naikkanal, are the main groups performed in the Pulikali in Thrissur. Approximately 50 performers are in each group. The total number of the performers will be 400-600. It may vary in every year.

Puli-Kali-Pulikkali - A tourist, curiously watching the body painting

Pulikkali – A tourist, curiously watching the body painting


Venue of the Make-Up

There are number of venues for make of the performers, and all venues are scattered in and around the 5 Km of the Thrissur town. Make-up of the performers starts early in the morning. Enamel paints apply on the body of the performers.

Number of experienced artists came to paint on the participant’s body. It takes 2-4 hours. After the make-up, performers are waiting to dry the paint coating on their body. Participants wear a mask of tiger and a broad metal belt with jingles around their waist.

Timing

In the evening, all the performers wearing the mask of tiger, and gathered together for the performance. They are moving to the Swaraj Round, Thrissur (Center of the Thrissur Town), at 4 ‘O’ Clock in the evening from their makeup centers.

Performers in all groups gathered in the Thrissur Round, nearly 5 pm in the evening. The performance will last until 8 pm in the night.

Pulikkali - Lunch before the play begins

Puli-Kali-Pulikkali – Lunch before the play begins


Puli-Kali-Pulikkali-A-potographer-capturing-the-view-of-masks-(Puli-chamayam)

Pulikkali – A potographer capturing the view of masks (Puli Chamayam)


Puli-Kali-Pulikkali-Masks-and-metal-belt-with-jingles

Pulikkali – Masks and metal belt with jingles


Puli-Kali-Pulikkali-These-all-are-came-to-watch-the-participants-getting-ready

Pulikkali – These all are came to watch the participants getting ready


Puli Kali-Pulikkali-Waiting-to-dry-the-paint-coating

Pulikkali – Waiting to dry the paint coating


Puli-Kali-Pulikkali - Newly wedded couples posing for post wedding photos with players

Pulikkali – Newly wedded couples posing for post wedding photos with players


Puli-Kali-Pulikkali-Tiger-face-painted-on-the-belly-of-a-participant

Pulikkali – Tiger face painted on the belly of a participant


Puli-Kali-Pulikkali-Participant-posing-with-a-baby

Pulikkali – Participant posing with a baby


Puli-Kali-Pulikkali - Just before the start

Pulikkali – Just before the start


Puli-Kali-Pulikkali - Boy sitting near the drums

Pulikkali – Boy sitting near the drums


Puli-Kali-Pulikkali-A-child-looks-at-the-strange-face

Pulikkali – A child looks at the strange face


Puli-Kali-Pulikkali-Starting-the-play-with-drum-beats

Pulikkali – Starting the play with drum beats


Puli-Kali-Pulikkali - Players assembled in the Swaraj Round, Thrissur

Pulikkali – Players assembled in the Swaraj Round, Thrissur


Puli-Kali-Pulikkali - Dance to the beats of Chenda and Thakil

Pulikkali – Dance to the beats of Chenda and Thakil


Puli-Kali-Pulikkali-A-participant-is-quenching-thirst

Pulikkali – A participant is quenching thirst


Puli-Kali-Pulikkali-Spirit-and-Colors-of-tigers

Pulikkali-Spirit and colors of tigers


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