Came down from London to see Pulivara and Pulikkali (sketching of tiger and tiger play), but became Puli (tiger) in Thrissur.
The Pulikkali being staged in Thrissur every year on the 4th day of Onam had a foreign Puli on this Onam of 2008. The human tiger cave of festival city of Thrissur accommodated the foreign Puli with pleasant. The Puli language dearth foreign Puli delighted and lovingly laughed towards the shouting and growling of the local Pulis. The quiet foreign Puli was much liked by the local Pulis. The foreign Puli mingled with local Pulis and danced in tune with the beating of the drums.
It was Stefan, a TV program presenter of British Broadcasting Corporation. Wearing a short trouser and painted all over the body in yellow and black to suit the costume of the Pulikkali artiste, it was difficult to distinguish Stefan from among the 60 members’ team of Keeramkulangara Yuvajana Sangam.
Stefan along with other crew members Karilia, the producer and Will, the cameraman came to Kerala as part of shooting for the BBC Channel’s Feasts program. The Feasts program covers cultural festivals and customs of different countries. This time they have selected India, Japan and Mexico for program cover. The Onam of Kerala, traditional wedding of Delhi and consecration of corpse at Varanasi are their agenda. The shooting of Onam festivities was the objective of their Kerala to visit. BBC Channel will present the Onam in April next.
On the Thiruvonam day, the most important day of Onam, that is the first day of Onam, the team shot all programs including Aana Ezhunnullath (the presentation of deity on ornamented elephant) in the Thrikkakara temple in Ernakulam district. The task of the team in Thrissur was to shoot Pulivara of Keeramkulanghara Yuvajana Sangam and the Pulikkali in the Swaraj Round of Thrissur city.
When Stefan showed his interest to become a Puli, the Sangam administrators gladly agreed. In the morning there was a short session by the local Pulis to dance in tune with the beating of drums. Yellow and black painted all over the body, Stefan danced along with the local Pulis hours together without any discomfiture.
After the Pulikkali shooting the BBC team left to Aranmula in Alappuzha district to shoot Uthrattadi Vallamkali (boat race) on the 5th day of Onam. Thereafter, they go straight to London.
The traditional wedding of Delhi and consecration of corpse in Varanasi have already been shot earlier.
Stefan left Thrissur with a firm promise to the Pulikoottam (group of Pulis) that he along with family will come to the Pulikkali of 2009.
This year there were 800 Pulis to steal the hearts of thousands of spectators. Hitherto Pulikkali was the domain of middle aged and elderly men. This time a few children including a 5 year girl performed and they were equal to the elders in all respects.