Puliyattam: An Old Folk Art Dance of Tamil Nadu & a Highly Exuberant Cultural Festival

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage


Tamil Nadu, a state known for its rich cultural heritage, is home to numerous traditional art forms that have been passed down through generations. Among these, Puliyattam stands out as a vibrant and captivating folk dance accompanied by music and colorful costumes. This ancient dance form not only entertains but also serves as a means to preserve and celebrate Tamil Nadu’s cultural roots. In this blog post, we delve into the world of Puliyattam, exploring its history, significance, and the grandeur of the associated cultural festival.

Origin and History

Puliyattam, which literally translates to “tiger dance” in Tamil, finds its roots in ancient mythology and folklore. Legend has it that Lord Ayyappan, a revered deity in the region, once took the form of a tiger to defeat the demon Mahishi. To commemorate this divine act, Puliyattam came into existence as a unique dance form.

The Dance Performance

Puliyattam is a highly energetic and expressive dance performed by a group of artists dressed as tigers. The dancers adorn elaborate costumes resembling tigers, complete with vibrant stripes and a ferocious tiger mask. The rhythmic beats of traditional percussion instruments like the thavil, mridangam, and udukku accompany the dance, creating a pulsating and captivating atmosphere.

The performance begins with an invocation to Lord Ayyappan, seeking his blessings and protection. The dancers then embody the characteristics of tigers, showcasing their agility, strength, and playfulness through graceful movements and intricate footwork. The synchronized movements of the dancers, combined with their vibrant attire, create a mesmerizing spectacle that draws the audience into the world of folklore and mythology.

Significance and Cultural Festival

Puliyattam is not just a dance form; it is a celebration of Tamil Nadu’s cultural heritage and an expression of devotion towards Lord Ayyappan. The dance reflects the close connection between humans and nature, as it pays homage to the majestic tiger, an important symbol in Indian mythology. Through Puliyattam, the artists aim to invoke a sense of awe and reverence for the natural world.

The grandeur of Puliyattam is most evident during the cultural festival held annually in various temples and villages across Tamil Nadu. The festival usually takes place during the Tamil month of Panguni (March-April) and attracts a large number of devotees and tourists. The festival commences with a procession of beautifully decorated chariots, carrying the deity’s idol, accompanied by the rhythmic beats of drums and the vibrant dance of the Puliyattam performers.

During the festival, the Puliyattam dancers perform in the temple premises and around the village, spreading joy and enthusiasm among the spectators. The fervor and excitement are palpable as people gather to witness the awe-inspiring performance, which serves as a visual spectacle and a reminder of the rich cultural heritage of Tamil Nadu.

Preserving and Promoting Puliyattam

Despite the passage of time, Puliyattam has managed to retain its charm and significance. Efforts are being made by cultural organizations, artists, and enthusiasts to preserve and promote this traditional art form. Workshops and training programs are conducted to impart the skills required to perform Puliyattam, ensuring that the legacy of this unique dance is passed on to future generations.

Furthermore, the advent of digital media and platforms has enabled Puliyattam to reach a wider audience, both within and outside Tamil Nadu. Videos and performances shared online have helped showcase the beauty and cultural richness of Puliyattam to a global audience, generating interest and appreciation for this traditional art form.


Puliyattam stands as a testament to Tamil Nadu’s rich cultural tapestry, representing the harmony between humans, nature, and mythology. This highly exuberant dance form, with its vibrant costumes, rhythmic music, and captivating movements, continues to enthrall audiences and ignite a sense of pride in Tamil Nadu’s cultural heritage. As efforts continue to preserve and promote Puliyattam, it is certain that this ancient folk art dance will endure and enchant generations to come, ensuring the legacy of this age-old tradition lives on.

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage

By Mala Chandrashekhar

Introducing Blogger Mala Chandrashekhar - a specialist academically trained in modern Western sciences, yet deeply enamored with India's timeless ethnic arts, crafts, and textiles. Her heart beats for the rich and glorious cultural and spiritual heritage of India, and she has dedicated her entire blog to spreading the immortal glories of ancient India worldwide. Through her simple yet impactful blog posts, Mala aims to reach every nook and corner of the globe, sharing India's beauty and wisdom with the world.

But Mala doesn't stop at just sharing her own thoughts and ideas. She welcomes constructive criticisms and suggestions to improve her blog and make it even more impactful. And if you share her passion for India's culture and heritage, she extends a warm invitation for high-quality guest blog posts.

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