Hulivesha, Folk Dance During Navratri

Hulivesha "Tiger Masque" is unique folk dance. Hulivēṣa is performed during Navratri to honour the goddess Sharada an aspect of Saraswati whose favoured animal is the tiger. 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 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. 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. Originally people used to do this as a part of a religious vow.

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