Tamil Nadu, the forerunner of India’s economy and industry also happens to be the country’s cultural capital. The culturally refined citizens believe in three forms of entertainment, namely Iyal (Literature), Isai (Music), Nadagam (Drama) and also beautiful dance forms like the renowned Puli Attam.
The cultural paradise of Tamil Nadu is noted for several celebrated folk dances. One of state’s eminent cultural extravaganzas includes the Puli Attam, a 200-year old folk dance whose connotation implies “a play of the tigers”. A highly exuberant and cultural festival, this dance form usually comprises of a troupe of 6 performers aping the movements of the majestic, predatory tigers. Their bodies are painted by the painstaking efforts of local artists in vibrant yellow and black to resemble an exact replica of a tiger. The paintings include the ferocious looking fangs and convincing headgear replete with ears paws with claws and long tail that conjures an accurate picture of the savage beast’s graceful movements.
The thunderous roars of drums beating wildly along with several local instruments reproduce the snarls of the regal predators and complete the picture. Sometimes to incorporate a touch of reality, a vulnerable goat is tied and the dancers pretend to seize upon the helpless creature and thereby kill it. Apart from the tiger the dancers are often adorned in the beautiful spots of a leopard or the eerie dark shades of a black panther.
Puli Attam, a legendary South Indian dance form, shrouded in drama draws flocks of admiring crowds during its performance in the temple festivals. This simple and unassuming dance is highly entertaining and appreciated by the young and old alike, who cheer wildly and try to contribute in whatever way they can to keep the declining folk culture alive.