Pulikkali is a recreational folk art from the state of Kerala. It is performed by trained artists to entertain people on the occasion of Onam, Kerala's annual harvest festival. On the fourth day of Onam celebrations (Nalaam Onam), performers, painted like tigers and hunters in bright yellow, red, and black, dance to the beats of instruments like Udukku and Thakil. The literal meaning of Pulikkali is ‘play of the tigers' hence the performances revolve around the theme of tiger hunting.
The origin of Pulikkali dates back to over 200 years, when Maharaja Rama Varma Sakthan Thampuran, the then Maharaja of Cochin, introduced the folk art.
A striking feature of this folk art is the colorful appearance of the performers. A particular combination of tempera powder and varnish or enamel is used to make the paint. First of all, the dancers remove the hair from the body, and then, the base coat of paint is applied on them. It takes two to three hours for the coating to dry. After that, the second coat of paint is applied with enhanced design. This entire procedure takes at least five to seven hours. A large number of artists gather to apply paint on the tigers. It is a meticulous process and often starts from the wee hours in the morning. By afternoon, the Pulikkali groups or 'sangams', as they are called, from all four corners of Thrissur move in a procession, dancing, pouncing and shaking their bellies to the beat of the drums through the streets
KACHCHHI GHODI DANCE
Kachchhi Ghodi dance, also spelled Kachchhi Ghodi and Kachchhi Gori, is an Indian folk dance that originated in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan. It has since been adopted and performed throughout the rest of the country. The dancers ride dummy horses and participate in mock fights, while a singer narrates folk tales about local bandits. It is commonly performed during wedding ceremonies to welcome and entertain the bridegroom's party, and during other social settings. Performing the dance is also a profession for some individuals.
Kachchhi Ghodi includes a combined performance by dancers, singers and musicians. In Rajasthan, the dance is performed by men dressed in a kurta and a turban, along with an imitation horse costume. The shell of the costume is constructed out of papier-mâché molded to resemble a horse that is supported by a bamboo frame. It is then covered with bright colored fabric elaborately designed with mirror-work embroidery known as Shisha. The dummy horse does not have legs. Instead, fabric is draped around the dancer's waist covering the entire length of his legs. Around the ankles, the dancers wear musical bells known as ghungroo, similar to those worn by Indian classical dancers.
The dance is prevalent among the Kamdholi, Sarghara, Bhambi and Bhavi communities. It is also performed with the same name in other parts of India, including Maharashtra and Gujarat.