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I was born in 1960 in a small town, Chandannagore, near Kolkatta. I graduated with a degree in commerce which didn't interest me. Like many young photographers I hung around newspaper offices in Kolkata until finally, the Telegraph game me a job in 1986. Two years later, I got a big break with India Today, a leading magazine, where the celebrated Indian photographer Raghu Rai had once worked. In 1999, I was awarded "The Media Fellowship" by the National Foundation of India which allowed my to do my photo-essay on the nomadic lives of the circus girls in India.

Pulikali is a 200 year old folk art tradition, which is practiced in Thrissur district of Kerala, during Onam, the new year festival in South India. Literally Pulikali translates into a play of the tiger. Men and boys paint themselves in the form of tigers and take to the streets in a procession as they prepare to welcome King Mahabali, (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu) the mythical ruler of Kerala. Though the painted Tigers look impressive, it is painstaking work for Them. The painting lasts almost an entire night. A lot of these paints contain toxic chemicals and create a burning sensation when applied on the newly shaved bodies. Country liquor helps minimise the pain.

Saibal Das