While Onam celebrations have winded up in most places, there is one important program happening today in Thrissur that you definitely should not miss if you are in the city. Today, on September 7, the Swaraj Round in Thrissur city will host the Puli Kali, a centuries-old folk dance and one of the most curious bits of the ten-day long Onam celebration (ALSO READ: Festivals and Events in India in September 2017 that Promise to be Spectacular). On this day, you can catch dancers with their faces and bodies painted like tigers, dancing in a frenzy in a form that mimics the movements of a tiger. Puli Kali, in fact, literally translates to ‘tiger dance’, and the performance goes on to the loud beats of the traditional drums and percussion instruments that can be heard in every temple festival in Kerala. CHECK OUT: Do you know the significance of the ten days of Onam celebrations?

Puli Kali is said to have been introduced by Rama Varma Sakthan Thampuran (1751–1805), a ruler of the Kingdom of Cochin

Puli Kali Thrissur Kerala

The folk dance was created to display the wildness of the people

Puli Kali Thrissur Kerala

The Dance is said to show a tiger hunt, as the tigers are stalked by hunters

Puli Kali Thrissur Kerala

Sakthan Thampuran was crucial in building Thrissur and its traditions

Which is why the city celebrates Puli Kali like nowhere else

Puli Kali Thrissur Kerala

The event has performers dressed and painted in the variety of colors

Puli Kali Thrissur Kerala

A Puli Kali performer as he prepares for the dance

Puli Kali Thrissur Kerala

The pot-bellies of dancers are the biggest canvases for the wild body art

Puli Kali Thrissur Kerala

Usually, it’s been men with enviably large bellies dancing around like tigers. But since 2016 women have pounced into the arena as well. This year, while the number of teams performing has dropped slightly, there will still be six teams competing with their dance moves, body art and dazzling costumes. And there will be 12 women as well, majestically prancing to the beat of drums. Female tigers are, interestingly, fiercely aggressive and protective of their young, and also hunt on their own because the males rarely share their food. Just thought we’d put it out there.