Onam Pookalam

Pookalam A Special Flower Arrangement in Kerala

Onam Pookalam
Onam Pookalam

India is a land of festivals and has an amazing culture. Indian traditions are always dominated by customs, set patterns and a certain discipline that makes the festivals even more interesting. Come July and the subcontinent is replete with many kinds of festive occassions.

The Festival of Onam

Onam is one such festival in the southern state of Kerala in India. It is a celebration of victory and joy. People in the state get ready to welcome the festive period with lot of happiness and enjoyment and make way for some of the best methods of exhibiting creativity and talent. The festival has the unique practice of arranging flowers with a particular pattern and the different varieties of designed flowers are called Pookalam. The festival is celebrated for ten days and the tenth day is observed as Onam the final celebration day.

What is Pookalam

Flowers arranged in Pookalam
Flowers arranged in Pookalam

Pookalam comes from the words “poov” which means design and “kalam” which means sketches. It is usually done during Onam and involves lot of preparation. Various kinds of flowers are collected and their petals separated from the stem. Leaves are collected and made into small pieces. In fact people in Kerala also use colour powder and coconut scrapings for the decoration.

How To Make a Pookalam

First of all, one puts the design on the floor with a chalk.

designs are made on the floors
designs are made on the floors

When the final design is decided, the flowers are arranged accordingly on the design.

The rule is to change the design everyday with different flowers. It is indeed a wonderful feeling to see so many beautiful and colourful flowers arranged in a beautiful manner.

Flowers Used for Pookalam 

The flowers that are used for this pookalam are the regular flowers like the shoe flower or the “chemparathy”, the “hanuman kireedam” or the red pagoda plant, the “Chethi poo” or the Ixora flower, the “mukutti” or the little tree plant and the “Thumba” or the Lucas Aspera. Amongst these the “Thumba” flowers are very important in making the pookalam.¬†

The Legend

Legend has it that the festival is celebrated for welcoming King Mahabali who is believed to visit his subjects every year. The festivities are all for celebrating this joyous occassion. It is also believed that this is the day the state of Kerala in India was found. The Pookalam is a positive way of augmenting an occassion in Indian culture.

Onam Pookalam
Onam Pookalam

Indeed the Pookalam is a unique way of celebrating an auspicious occassion and it is interesting to see the various symmetrical designs that form the entire structure. India with its myriad ways of celebrating festivals endorses faith, trust and belief through such traditions.

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