Believed to have been introduced by ruler of Cochin Maharaja Rama Varma Sakthan Thampuran, Pulikali dance is a part of Onam celebration. It symbolises bravery and wild spirit. For centuries, since its introduction, it has been an art form that was performed only by men, but this year this gender based tradition evolved to including women as well.

Women were seen donning tiger masks and body paints who joined in the Palikali (Dance of Tigers) festivities in Vadakkunnatha Siva temple in the city of Cochin. They danced along with their male counterparts and celebrated Onam.

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Pulikali - The Dance of Tigers.
Pulikali – The Dance of Tigers. (Picture Credit:

The festivities, known for their grandeur, attracted a lot of localities and foreigners as well, who witnessed this colourful and joyous event. It is great to see that women’s participation has increased in these rituals which are supposedly performed only by men. A step that shows there is a readiness to step away from age-old restrictive traditions when it comes to involving women in important rituals.

Onam Festivties
Onam Festivities.( Picture Credit:

Onam is one of the main festivals celebrated in Kerala and steps like these make a huge difference. They mark the start of a new beginning and tradition that will continue from here on.

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There are several other activities that take place during these 4 days, including Aranmula Uthrittathi boat race that was held in river Pampa in Pathnamthitta district, Kaikottikali Dance and many other art forms.

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