Thrissur: Chathunni, a veteran Pulikali artist who had been performing for more than six decades, died in Thrissur on Saturday. He was 79.
A native of Thrissur, Chathunni had been participating in the popular street pageant in Kerala since he turned 16.
An art form in which people with tiger strips and masks, danced to rhythmic beats on the streets, Pulikali (Tiger Dance) mark the end of Onam celebrations in the state.
During his younger days, he was also a notable football player. Chathunni was also witness to how Pulikali transformed over the decades. The current crop of artists only paint the face of the tiger on their pot bellies. However, Chathunni stood for the traditional method in which the tiger painting was done on the artist’s face.
Though a popular ‘tiger’, who entertained the crowds with his rhythmic steps on the streets, Chathunni missed out on making any savings. Due to financial difficulties, he had to sell off his property at Ayyanthole and moved to Kallur some years ago. Still, he never missed out on visiting the Thekkinkadu Maidanam.
He had stayed away from Pulikali for the past several years due to health issues.
Chathunni is survived by wife Narayani, and daughter Radha and her husband Babu, and son Ramesh and his wife Rashmi.
Chathunni, who has performed with several prominent teams, had been with the Ayyanthole Desham during the fag end.
Its organisers said that Chathunni has left a void in their team. And that from now on as a mark of respect towards the veteran, they would have only 50 members in their team instead of the usual 51.
Ayyanthole Pulikali team president Sunil Khosh, secretary V R Sreekrishnan, treasurer Unnikrishnan Karat, other office-bearers Shaji Govind, Kannan Parambath, Shivadas, Edathara, Nishanth Bhaskar, Balan Shoba, and N R Davis visited Chathunni's house.