Three women make roaring entry into Kerala’s male-dominated Pulikali show

The participants, painted as tigers and hunters in yellow, red and black, danced to entertain a large crowd in Thrissur. Before this, Pulikali had always been a street performance staged exclusively by men.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram | Published:September 18, 2016 1:48 am
Pulikali, Kerala festival, kerala, Pulikali women, Onam, Kerala Onam, news, latest news, Kerala news, India news, national news Vinaya, Sakkena and Divya stage a Pulikali performance, in Thrissur on Saturday. (Express photo by Anoop K Venu)

For the first time in its two-century-old history, Pulikali — a flamboyant folk art form in Kerala — saw the participation of women. The Pulikali, or tiger play, was staged in Thrissur on Saturday to mark the end of the Onam festival. The participants, painted as tigers and hunters in yellow, red and black, danced to entertain a large crowd in Thrissur. Before this, Pulikali had always been a street performance staged exclusively by men.

But on Saturday, three women joined the 50-odd men from Viyur region — one of the 10 regions that send teams for the pageant that is held on the streets. An organisation called the Women Integration and Growth Through Sports took the initiative to field assistant sub-inspector Vinaya, fashion designer Sakkena and school teacher Divya as participants in the festival.

“We want to ensure that women are present in all arenas of life. So we ventured into the Pulikali painted like tigers. This experiment should inspire us to form an all-women team for the next edition of Pulikali,” said Vinaya. As many as 500 men also stormed the streets, their bodies painted like tigers, as part of the event.

“It is a beginning and we want more women to come forward and participate in it. Organisations should also show readiness to include more women participants in the traditional art form,” Vinaya said.