Dancing 'tigers' show off stripes

A group of 300 performers in tiger masks and body paint taking part in Pulikali, or tiger dance, in Thrissur, in the South Indian state of Kerala, last Thursday.

The parade-style performance is held every year during the Onam festival, which marks the start of the new year based on the Malayalam calendar.

The dance follows a 200-year-old tradition and takes on a hide-and-seek theme where the tigers try to outwit a hunter.

Dance troupes say that in recent years, it has been difficult to raise funds to support enough participants as it costs 15,000 rupees (S$320) to pay for each performer's costume and make-up, reported The New Indian Express.

Mr T.R. Hariharan from the Nayakanal Pulikali Sangam troupe hopes there will be more awareness about Pulikali outside of Kerala. "If the festival is to be maintained and taken forward, more financial support will be required," he said.

What is encouraging, though, is that last year, four women took part in the dance - the first time that women have been a part of this male-dominated tradition.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2017, with the headline 'Dancing 'tigers' show off stripes'. Print Edition | Subscribe