THRISSUR: Chathunni Asan, 78, the oldest ‘puli’ of the much popular pulikkali in the cultural capital, died here on Friday. He had been undergoing treatment for months after suffering from a fractured back and leg after he fell on the roadside at Thrissur North bus stand in 2017.
For all pulikkali enthusiasts, Chathunni Asan is the most familiar one as he remained distinct with flexible movements and a thin body, unlike others who flaunt their big tummies and fat body in the tiger dance.
Chathunni began his performance as a puli at the age of 18 and, for the past 60 years, he always ensured to be a part of the procession that celebrates the Onam festival.
In the last Pulikkali in 2019, Chathunni wanted to perform despite the ill health, but the doctors advised him not to and hence the team members insisted that he must give proper rest for the body. Amid all celebrations, Chathunni’s preparations for pulikkali began with the 41-day ‘vrutham’, sticking to only vegetarian food, routine morning walk, and darshan at Vadakkumnathan temple.
He has the record of performing for all local teams of pulikkali. It was his wish to have a group at his own place and this paved way to the formation of Ayyanthole Desam Pilukkali Sangham. In his last years, Chathunni performed for his own team and brought laurels. Chathunni earned his daily bread from working as a stone mason.
He is survived by wife Narayani, son Ramesh and daughter Radha. The cremation was held at Vadookkara cremation centre. Hundreds of people from all walks of life paid last respects as his body was kept at his residence at Katoor.
Agriculture Minister V S Sunil Kumar expressed his condolences on the demise of the veteran ‘puli’. Mayor Ajitha Vijayan paid last respects on behalf of Thrissur corporation.