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Festive blossoms of pookalam

Festive blossoms of pookalam
The set-up starts on the first day of Onam, and the design grows bigger in size (up to four or five metres!) over the festival period.

Pookalam is a grand carpet of flowers set to welcome King Mahabali



by

Farhana Chowdhury

Published: Mon 9 Sep 2019, 9:30 AM

If you take a stroll in the residential districts of Kerala that celebrate Onam, a waft of fresh flowers is sure to fill your senses. As you follow the aroma, you're bound to discover an interesting arrangement of flowers, carefully placed on the ground amid lamps to form an intricate pattern. This is the pookalam, a notable attraction often created by women and children of a household.

Pookalam designs range from simple to complex, and families take part in friendly competition to show off their artistic creativity coupled with a delicate touch.

The set-up starts on the first day of Onam, and the design grows bigger in size (up to four or five metres!) over the festival period. Traditionally, pookalam is arranged in a circular fashion, but as imagination progressed, it has adapted different forms, ranging from diamond to rectangular outlines.

Directly translating to 'flower design' from Malayalam, the exquisite layout is eye-catching as it features flowers of Kerala-origin that come in different shapes, sizes and vivid colours.

Known collectively as Dasapushpam, or the Ten Sacred Flowers, bright pink, purple, white and yellow flowers lend varying hues to vibrant displays. Back in the days, young children were often appointed to pluck flowers, such as thumba, aripoo, kakka poovu, hoovu, mukkutti, aripoo etc., from around the neighbourhood.

Gone are the days of frolicking in gardens, as these flowers are now conveniently available in flower shops and purchased alongside non-native blossoms for additional depth and variety in arrangements. Thumba remains an essential flower in the throng, followed by tulasi. The other varieties include chethi, chemparathy, jamanthi, shankupushpam, to name a few.

The concept behind pookalam is to give King Mahabali a gracious welcome with a grand carpet of flowers.

The 10 Sacred Flowers (Dasapushpam)

.    Karuka (Bermuda Grass)
.    Mukutti (Little Tree Plant)
.    Nilappana (Golden Eye Grass)
.    Uzhinja (Balloon Plant)
.    Poovamkurunthal (Little Ironweed/Purple Fleabane)
.    Thiruthali (Morning Glory)
.    Kayyonni (False Daisy)
.    Cherula (Mountain Knot Grass)
.    Muyal Cheviyan (Lilac Tassel Flower)
.    Vishnukranthi or Krishnakranthi (Dwarf Morning Glory)

- farhana@khaleejtimes.com



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