The mask and the breast-plate are a part of the ceremony of invocation of deified ancestors or certain deities, mostly related to the cult of the bhutha popular in coastal Karnataka. Bhutha Aradhane or the worship of the bhutha spirits comprises a periodic invocation of certain bhuthas or deities in the body of one of the priests (impersonator) amidst the recitation of paddanas related to the life of the bhutha spirit or mythology of local deities. When possessed by such spirits or deities, the priest wears such a mask on his head and the breast-plate on his chest depending upon the deity or spirit that possesses him. Tiger mask is used, among others, by the impersonator of the goddess Pilichandi (tiger-chamunda) who is believed to protect farmers and their cattle from the attack of tigers and other wild animals.
Presence of several cobra hoods on the mask and the breast-plate is rooted in the belief that snakes, which dwell the underworld, represent the spirit of dead ancestors.