Covid pandemic hinders Onam festivities; Thrissur to give Pulikali a miss
Usually on the Chathayam day of Chingam, tigers take to the streets of Thrissur jiggling their large bellies. Pulikali, the tiger hunt–themed street art form has men painting their bodies as tigers donning masks and dancing their way into the crowd.
However, this year the Covid pandemic has hit us hard to suppress all the festivities to our hearts.
Though the processions roll out by afternoon and celebrations go into the night, preparations begin from the previous night. The most important is the round, fat belly. The larger the belly, the more appealing the tiger is. Also, one has to know to dance accordingly. If all comes together, the market value of the tiger goes up till Rs 10,000. In the previous years, even men from Iduki had arrived at the district to participate in Pulikali.
The tigers would dance in teams. The owners of each team will have expenses from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 7 lakh. The corporation provides Rs 1.25 lakh aid for each team. Though government had announced Rs 50,000 for Pulikali, organizers say it is not usually received.
Preparing the colours
The preparations for Pulikali begin with mixing of colours. Golden, orange, green and pink — these colour powders are mixed with varnish. Mostly powders are used and sometimes organic.
There were years that witnessed around 12 tiger streaks. In each team, there would be around 40 tigers, two tableaus, 35 music artistes and over 100 of organizers. Viyyur, Pookunnam, Kottappuran, Naykkanal, Chembukkavu, Kokkala are some of the famed Pulikali teams.
In the recent years, the Pulikali witnessed female tigers performing. The Poonthol team had fielded 9 tigresses and 3 tigers in a year.
The tigers that take the streets after Onam are more diverse than those living in forests. Karimbuli, Varayanpuli, Kuttipuli are only a few among them. The previous years also saw LCD tigers and florescent tigers.
Though the pandemic has stolen the celebrations, the spirit of Pulikali can never be defeated as all are gearing up to celebrate it within their hearts.