Hulivesha or Pilivesha in Tulu "Tiger Masque" (Kannada: ಹುಲಿ ವೇಷ Hulivēṣa) is a folk dance unique to the Tulu Nadu region of Karnataka. Hulivēṣa is performed during Navratri to honour the goddess Sharada - an aspect of Saraswati whose favoured animal is the tiger. Mangalore Dasara is one of the festivals during which large number of enthusiasts participate in this ritual. It is also performed during the Krishna Janmashtami/Mosarukudike and Ganesha Chaturthi at Mangalore, Udupi, Moodabidri many other places in Tulu Nadu.
Typically, young males form troops of five to ten members or more, which will have three to five males painted and costumed to look like tigers, and a band called thaase in Tulu with two or three drummers. This troop is accompanied by the manager of the group. During Navratri, these troops will be roaming the streets of their towns, with the accompanying drum beats of their bands. They stop at homes and businesses or on the road sides to perform for about ten minutes after which they collect some money from the people who have observed their performance.
The troops perform until the last day of Navratri, and almost all of them form part of the Sharada processions organized by various temples such as Mangaladevi, Gokarnanatheshwara and Venkatramana temple. After the procession is over, performances are stopped and the paint is removed.
While huli means "tiger", dancers also painted themselves with leopard or cheetah motifs. Each person will be wearing just a knicker, which usually has a tiger-skin motif. The rest of his bare body and face is painted with various designs that denote tigers, cheetahs and leopards. A mask made of fake fur and sometimes a tail is worn to complete the ensemble.
The paint causes a burning sensation on the skin. But this is endured by the persons to be part of the celebrations and also to earn some extra money in the holiday season. Originally people used to do this as a part of a religious vow. The paint is kept on the body for a couple of days and repainted or retouched as desired.
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