THRISSUR, Sept 17 (PTI): A group of Keralite women today created history by taking part in 'Pulikali' (Dance of Tigers), a famous folk art which has been an exclusive bastion of male artistes, here along with over 500 male counterparts, donning the garb of symbolic tigers.
Breaking the conventional gender barriers, they performed along with men on the streets, dancing to the beat of drums wearing tiger masks and body painted with the face of big cat.
The participation of women added colour to the annual folk fiesta, held in front of the famed Vadakkunnatha Siva temple in the city as part of the Onam festivities.
Believed to have been introduced by erstwhile ruler of Cochin Maharaja Rama Varma Sakthan Thampuran two centuries ago, Pulikali, held annually as part of Onam festivities, is a symbolic representation of bravery and wild spirit.
A large number of trained artistes, painted as tigers and hunters, danced to the beats of instruments such as 'udukku' and 'takil'.
Three women--N A Vinaya, Divya and Sakheena -- members of Women Integration and Growth through Sports (WINGS), an NGO, earlier told media they would take part in the folk art along with the other male artistes to break the gender barriers.
Vinaya said it was an opportunity for them to leave a mark in an area in which only men were till now involved.
"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," she said.
Symbolic 'tigers', dancing, pouncing and shaking their bellies along the road, attracted thousands of people, including foreigners.
A large number of spectators thronged both sides of city roads to catch a glimpse of the artistes.
The artistes, young and old, including a 72-year-old veteran, participated in the event.
Meanwhile, the famed Aranmula Uthrittathi boat race was held in river Pampa in Pathnamthitta district as part of Onam festivities.
Hundreds of people thronged both banks of the river to cheer the participating boats in the event, which is also a major tourist attraction.