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'Tigers' celebrate Dassehra in Mangalore

Last updated on: September 29, 2009 

'Tigers' celebrate Dassehra in Mangalore

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The tradition of Veshas or disguises comes alive every year during Dassehra celebrations in Mangalore, Karnataka.
The Pili Vesha or the tiger dance, where men in groups of 5 to 15 paint their entire bodies in tiger stripes and perform a unique dance, is the most popular event during the celebrations.

Text: Vicky Nanjappa Photograph: Dayanand Kukkaje/Daijiworld


Image: Pili Vesha dancers

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'Tigers' celebrate Dassehra in Mangalore

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The leader of each group is called the Shardoola, and he wears a unique head gear and dances to rhythmic beats, as the rest of his group follows his steps.

Image: Pili Vesha dancers

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'Tigers' celebrate Dassehra in Mangalore

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These men perform various kinds of dances but the most popular one is Kuri Haakunu. The dance performance, depicting a tiger hunting for a sheep, was an instant hit with the audience.

Image: Pili Vesha dancers

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'Tigers' celebrate Dassehra in Mangalore

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The Pili Vesha is performed only twice in Dakshin Kannada -- during Dassehra and during Janmashtami celebrations. Earlier, the Pili Vesha used to stretch on for ten days.

Image: Pili Vesha dancers

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'Tigers' celebrate Dassehra in Mangalore

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The dancers spend hours painting their bodies and sleep only on plantain leaves to prevent the paint from peeling off.
The dancers in groups go from door-to-door to collect money. They receive anything between Rs 25 to Rs 100 per group.

Image: Pili Vesha dancers

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