Onam is the one of the most celebrated festivals of the Malayalis.It is widely observed in Kerala and other parts of the world that are inhabited by the Malayalis. The festival is celebrated for around 10-12 days.
A special highlight of the Onam is the pookalam or floral rangoli which comes in various shapes and sizes and adds to the festive spirit of the occasion. The Malayalis design the pookalam in order to welcome the spirit of their most popular king Mahabali who is considered to visit his subjects' homes during the Onam.
The Onam pookalam is a popular artwork created with bright and colorful flowers. The word "Poo" means "flower" and "Kalam" means "artwork".So, a pookalam is considered as a floral rangoli.A rangoli is basically a wall art or floor art.
The Onam rangoli designs include artwork done on the floor only.Its a wide range of flowers like the Thumbapoo, Mukkutti, Aripoo, Hanuman Kireedom, and Chethi, the Onam pookalam designs turn out to be great pieces of artwork.
Most of the Onam designs include a variety of motifs like flowers, mango, peacocks, and other birds.
The Thumbapoo flower is widely used in creating Onam flower designs.That's because people consider it to be the favorite flower of Lord Shiva, and King Mahabali was a devotee of the Lord. Also, these flowers are smaller in size and look brighter in the sun's rays.
The pookalam is created on the first day of Onam, which is known as the Atham day. Usually the design on the first day is simple, and mostly yellow flowers are used to create a floral pattern.
The Onam flower designs created during this festival get complicated with each passing day. For example, on the 2nd day of Onam, at least a second layer is added to the Onam rangoli designs.
Aside from yellow, different colors like orange and creamy yellow are used to form the pookalam. On the 3rd day, you'll find Onam pookalam designs being created with 4 to 5 types of flowers, thus making the pookalam bigger in size.
On the 6th day of Onam or the Thriketa, more varieties of flowers are used to ensure that the Onam pookalam is even larger in size. Also, the pookalam is designed such that it represents a nakshatram.
On the 7th day of Onam (Moolam), the pookalam is given a unique shape by cutting it at the four corners. Sometimes, leaves are also used to add a special touch to the Onam designs.
In order to make Onam pookalam designs, the Malayalis first clean up the entire floor and apply cowdung over the area where they plan to make the pookalam. Then they create certain motifs with bamboo sticks. Next, they make bright and colorful Onam designs to add a special touch to the pookalam.
Sometimes, the Malayalis make pookalams in ten rings. Each of these rings represents a deity associated with the Hindu religion. The first ring defines Ganesha whereas the second represents Shiva and Shakti. The third ring represents Shiva, the fourth ring defines Brahma, and so on. The flowers are then used to fill in the motifs designed on the cowdung.
The making of pookalam is a joyous event which adds to the fun and enthusiasm of the Malayalis during this festive occasion. What's even more important is the spirit of togetherness that develops when people join hands to make beautiful Onam designs and pookalams.