The wonderful ten-day long festival is finally nearing its end. Onam is a true celebration of the egalitarian nature of society and is celebrated by Malayalees around the world. Onam brings along with it a real sense of spiritual unity as, though based on Hindu mythology, the festival is celebrated by Malayalees of all religions. This year Onam celebrations started on September 1 and will be concluded on September 13. The highlights of the ten-day-long festival are the Songs, the Pookalams (flower carpets), the food and the prayers. A festival celebrating renewed hope and a new beginning, Onam is a tribute honouring the King Mahabali who is welcomed back by his masses. The happiness in the air is multiplied manifold as in Kerala, schools, public and private offices are given holidays for the entire duration, so that people may spend time with their family and enjoy the festivities. As the final day ‘Thiruvonam” is nearing (it happens to fall on the 14 of September), we want you to try out the true symbol of Onam, ‘the Pookalam’.
The Pookalam is a flower carpet laid out at doorsteps to welcome the benevolent king, Mahabali. What it really is, is an intricate and symmetrical arrangement of flowers in different colours. This carpet of flowers is always laid on the floor. Malayalees ensure that their doorsteps are adorned with these beautiful patterns of flowers to symbolise that Onam is officially here. This is one tradition that is almost religiously followed by most Malayalees so that they may enjoy the fun that goes along with making the best of Pookalams. The Pookalams are laid out on every single day of the ten-day festival and as the days pass, they get bigger and better. The flowers used for making these intricate carpets are called ‘Atthapoov’. ‘Poov’ stands for flower and ‘Kalam’ stands for design and the ‘Pookalam’ is intricately tied to the grand festivities.
Malayalees use a lot of different variety of flowers to make these beautiful designs. In fact, the flowers are bought in kilos by every household. This year, Prices of almost all flowers in the wholesale flower market in the district have spiralled owing to an increase in demand ahead of the Onam. So if you are wondering whether you can make a Pookalam, the answer is an absolute yes. All you require is a few hands to help you, some creativity and an eye for symmetry. The Pookalams are generally circular in shape but can essentially be in any shape you want. There may even be a theme behind the Pookalam. The only condition is that only fresh flowers and leaves may be used.
There has always been a tradition in Malayalee households to follow a fixed ritual on the Thiruvonam day. Family members begin the day with a fresh Pookalam, a visit to the temple and then come back home and turn the music on. In the 1980s and 90s, the Onam song tapes used to sell like hotcakes. Even today the tradition is not lost. Many non-Malayalees don’t realise what an integral part the Onam songs play in the entire celebration. The speciality about the Onam songs is the fact that unlike other modern music, these songs get better and better as they get older. So this Onam we want you to experience the joy of the festival. Gather your friends and family and challenge yourself to make the best Pookalam you can design. To help you we present to you here, 10 top Pookalam designs. So gather some flowers and get going!
This first design epitomises the Pookalam. A simple play on circular forms makes for a great Pookalam and along with it, the best beginning for the Onam celebration.
Meanwhile, this second Pookalam is a combination of circular and angular designs. While the outer boundary is indeed circular, the more complicated angular designs on the inside, make this flower carpet absolutely gorgeous.
However, if you are looking for a design with textured layers but sticking to the circular format, then this Pookalam might be right up your sleeve. Simple and elegant, it could be a great way to start your Thiruvonam day.
The Kathakali face has long been one of the more intricate Pookalam designs. This flower carpet pays a tribute to one of India’s oldest and classical of dance forms, the Kathakali.
If you are an absolute beginner to the world of Pookalams then this simple symmetric design might be an easy bet. Make sure you try out this design this Onam.
This Pookalam makes a play on combinations as it brings together the Kathakali face and the boat races. If you are all about remixing then this is the way to go.
This Pookalam represents the Mohiniattam dance, which is an integral part of the Onam celebrations.
This Pookalam is a tribute to the legend that goes behind Onam. Enshrining images of Vamana and Mahabali, this might be the perfect design for you if you want to pay the perfect tribute to Onam. The legend talks about the mighty and generous King Mahabali who ruled a prosperous empire. The land that now forms the state of Kerala witnessed its golden era during his regime with everything being in bountiful.The Gods who grew insecure of Mahabali’s prosperity and sought out Lord Vishnu’s help.
However, Vishnu instead of a full-fledged battle against the King took the form of a Brahmin dwarf Vamana and approached Mahabali. Lord Vishnu disguised as a Brahmin and went to Mahabali while he was in meditation. Mahabali gladly received the young Vamana and asked him for any gift he desired. Mahabali’s guru, Shukracharya warned Mahabali against the Vamana and said that he was no ordinary Brahmin but was Lord Vishnu himself. Mahabali not wanting to go back on his words, ask Vamana for what he wished to which he asked for three paces of land.Mahabali asked him to measure out the land for himself. After which Vamana grew in size and reached the heavens. He measured all of the earth with on footstep and claimed heaven with the second foot. With no land or heaven remaining, Mahabali asked Vamana to keep the third footstep on his head and sent the King to hell. The site where he placed his foot is said to be the village of Thrikkakara in Kochi. There are versions of the legend, this is the most popularly believed one.
If it is pure beauty that you are looking for, what better way to show off to your neighbours than making your Pookalam all about the beautiful peacock. This design duplicates the multi-coloured, exquisite feathers of the peacock, which also happens to be our national bird.
This is the perfect design if you want to showcase the true egalitarian nature that Onam propagates. It enshrines symbols from all major religions and a white swan which symbolises inter-religious peace. This is a very apt Pookalam design for Onam as even though the festival is based on Hindu mythology, it is celebrated by people of all religions in Kerala.
Happy Onam 2019!