Pookalam (Athapoovu): Decorative Floral designs for Onam Festival

Pookalam for onam

Pookalam for onam

In the state of Kerala, a Hindu festival Onam also called Vamana Jayanthi is celebrated which falls in the months of August-September and lasts for ten days. During this festival, apart from various other arrangements, the courtyards of every household are decorated with Pookalams.

Pookalam also known as Athapoovu is a decorative, colorful and complex floral arrangement set on the floor and is a tradition most popular amongst the people of Kerala. The word Pookalam is derived from two Malayalam words, ‘Poov’ means flower and ‘Kalam’ stands for colour pattern on the floor.

It is believed by the people of Kerala that King Mahabali visits their place at the time of Onam. People, particularly teenaged girls prepare well-designed Pookalams to give warm welcome to their beloved King.

How to make Pookalam?

Making a pookalam is a complicated task with a lot of dedication, technique, creativity, team spirit and competition. Flowers of different sizes and colors are required in huge quantity for making Pookalams.

Generally, Athapoovu or pokalam is round in shape made up of multi –layered arrangement of colourful flowers, petals and leaves. As this is an auspicious ritual, there is prohibition on using dried coconuts, powdered colors   or artificial flowers. People make Pookalams normally on front side of house or building.

The size of a conventional Pookalam varies from diameter of four to five meters. In the center of Pookalam, idols of Vishnu and Mahabali are placed for worship. During ten-day festival of Onam, the rich cultural heritage of Kerala emerges in its best spirit. People start making designs of Pookalam on the day of Atham and get them ready by Thiruvonam day.

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