THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Heralding change in the traditional street art form of pulikali, which is staged during the time of Onam, a new generation of women artists are making a name for themselves in this dance of ‘tigers’.
When pulikali was staged on Saturday in the cultural capital of the state, performance of women artists caught the fancy of the public who thronged the lanes of the city. Since pulikali has no rigid rules and rhythm compared to traditional dance forms, it was the improvisation of artists which stole the show. Both pot-bellied men, women and children donning the costumes of tigers and leopards made their way through Swaraj Round in the evening bringing the curtain down on Onam celebrations.
The team from Viyyur Desham had three women artists in the front row. It was this team which first dismantled the male bastion by featuring women in 2016, transcending gender-religious barriers. The artists began preparations for the event from Friday itself. There were six teams and each had as many as 51 artists and a 35-member percussion orchestra.
The artists entertained people by mimicking the movements of tigers and leopards to the accompaniment of traditional percussion orchestra. Each team had its ‘surprise moves’ to impress the spectators. Each team also exhibited tableaus and one of them featured the Aghoris, a sect of Hindu ascetics.
Last year, pulikali was not staged in the wake of the August flood. Hence, the participation of people was more this year. The event was organised by local teams in association with the Corporation and Tourism Department. In the past, it was purely handled by local teams, but the rising popularity of the event has forced the civic body authorities and the Tourism officials to come to the picture. Kottappuram Desham, Ayyanthol Desham, Viyyur Centre, Thrikkumarakudam Desham, Kottappuram Centre, and Viyyur Desham were the six teams that took part in the show.