Follow This Simple Tutorial to Make an Easy and Beautiful Onam Pookalam !
Its onam! That season of the year when you get to indulge in flavorful food, long awaited family visits and lots of fun. Apart from all the other factors that make up this special occasion, one thing truly stands out- the onam pookalam of course! So, you plan to set up a pookalam for yourself this year but don’t know where to start? Keep reading; we have much in store for you!
What is Onam?
Onam is ideally a harvest festival that is celebrated in the state of Kerala. It is celebrated over 10 days, starting from the 1st of Chingam (the Malayalam calendar month which overlaps Gregorian months of August-September).
People of Kerala or “Malayalees” believe that it is during this time of the year that Mahabali (a legendary king of olden times) visited their homes. According to mythical beliefs, Mahabali, the asura king was a righteous and kind leader liked by all his subjects. However, the devas or demigods turned jealous over this and approached Mahavishnu to end his reign. Mahavishnu took the form of a dwarf brahmin or Vamana and sent the king to Pathala or the netherworld. Mahabali vowed to return to visit his subjects every year during the month of Chingam. This marks the famous and biggest festival in Kerala- Onam!
How Is Onam Celebrated?
Onam is the time of rejoicing and festivity in Kerala. It is observed by almost all Keralites in equal fervour.
- An Onam pookalam or the traditional flower carpet is set up in all households.
- The Onam sadhya or the traditional feast with a variety of dishes is served on plantain leaves.
- Onam games are played and enjoyed by one and all; irrespective of the gender, age, caste and creed. These include the tug of war, kabaddi and many more.
- Vallam Kali or the traditional boat race is conducted during the Onam season. It is a form of canoe racing and is usually attended by many.
- Puli Kali or the tiger dance is an art form where people are dressed up as tigers. It is an indispensable part of public Onam festival celebrations.
Significance of the Onam Pookalam
So, how important is the Onam pookalam in the grand festival of Onam? Although celebrated for 10 days, the last 4 days of Onam are considered most important, especially when setting up the pookalam.
Pookalam is a traditional flower carpet that is set up to mark the homecoming of Emperor Mahabali
- This floral carpet symbolizes the spirit of unity and teamwork, as all members of the family gather together to get it done.
- Pookalam or the traditional flower carpet originates from the combination of the words “Poo” or flower and “Kalam” or sketches on the ground.
- It is considered auspicious to decorate the sketch or the Rangoli with colourful and variety of flowers on the occasion of Onam.
- Onam pookalam is typically laid in the entrance of the home or the front courtyard.
- A simple pookalam with very few flowers are set up on the first day of Onam. The size and complexity of the pookalam increase with days. A grand pookalam or floral carpet is created on the last day of Onam or the “Thiruvonam”.
- Onam pookalam hold great significance, so much so that there are pookalam competitions held during the onam festival.
If you have decided to try your hand at preparing an Onam pookalam this year, then we say you need to do your homework right! There is absolutely no need to get overwhelmed, as we have got your back here. Follow this simple and easy tutorial to get a pookalam done with ease.
The Onam Pookalam Requires :
There are certain things that are must haves or essentials in making an onam pookalam. Here we have prepared a checklist for you to go through.
A Good Design to Follow
The design or the pattern to follow indicates the shape or the backbone of the pookalam. You have to get a proper blueprint of the design that you indent to choose. Refer easy and popular designs, like the ones mentioned in this article to get an idea.
Wet Chalk and Thread (for Drawing a Circle)
Keep your hands off the flowers until you sketch the actual design on the ground. It is easy to get the pattern done with wet chalk. So, make sure to keep one in hand. Also, rings or circles are an integral part of the design in any Onam pookalam. You can make perfect circles using a thread. How you may wonder? It works by the same principle that of the compass used in the geometry box. Tie wet chalk to one end of the thread. Keep the other end of the thread fixed at a point and draw a circle around this point to get a perfect (or near-perfect!) circle.
Lots of Colorful Flowers
The number and colour of the flowers depend on the size and complexity of the Onam pookalam. Big and colourful pookalams are usually prepared on the most important day of Onam or the Thiruvonam. The main flowers used in the pookalam are usually of orange, yellow, white and red colours. in the olden times, flowers were in plenty in the households or the neighbourhood. However, now shops and stalls selling flowers in the market boom during the Onam season. Make sure to purchase enough!
Team Work and Lots of Patience!
Preparing a grand pookalam isn’t an easy task. It is quite a laborious task involving hours of hard work sometimes. Well, it depends on the complexity of the pookalam though! Usually, all the members in the family get involved in the preparation of the Onam pookalam making it a family event in all essence. You could also get your friends to help you out with the Onam pookalam.
Steps to Make an Onam Pookalam
Simply placing flowers in a specific pattern isn’t just about the pookalam. There are certain steps that you need to follow to get this done systematically.
Step 1- Decide on the Design and the Size of the Pookalam
It is always advised to draw the pattern on paper and decide on the size of the pookalam. This makes it easy to select the type, colour and quantity of the flowers. You can also decide which colours are going to be used in which parts of the pookalam.
Step 2- Use Chalk and Thread to Sketch the Design on the Floor
The asymmetrical base design will definitely make the pookalam look awkward. So, you must get the outline of the pookalam sketched on the ground before placing the flowers. Always wet your chalk before getting the design sketched on the ground. This helps the outline to stay throughout the whole process. If you are artistic enough, you can draw freehand replicating the design already sketched on a paper. If not, you can use a thread and chalk to draw circles of different radiuses. Alternatively, you can also use Rangoli powder to trace the outline of the design on the floor.
Step 3- Prep the Flowers
Prepping is key as this reduces the time to set up the pookalam. A few members of your team can start separating the petals from the flowers, while the others can get the design sketched. Separate them by colour, size and shape. You can also use whole flowers in the pookalam, if you wish. However, make sure to not prep way ahead or the night before. The flowers may lose freshness and colour.
Step 4- Place Flowers on the Design
Once the pookalam design is sketched, you can start filling the outline with flower petals. Always start from the center of the pookalam and work outwards. Or else, you may find yourself stretched beyond capacity to place flowers in the center! Plus it can get difficult to fix if anything goes wrong.
Easy and Beautiful Onam Pookalam Designs for You
Here are some simple pookalam designs for you to try this season.
Make It the Simplest with Only Circle Rings
Very simple could be also super grand sometimes. This pookalam is an ideal example. Place flowers in circular rings, starting from the smallest one from the middle. You can partition the rings with different colours for added beauty.
Shape It Like a Flower
This Onam pookalam is very easy to set up, yet very classy in design. Shape up the pookalam in the form of a flower with colourful petals. You can make slight variations in the number of the petals if you wish to explore.
Simple Yet Elegant
This simple pookalam is created with only three varieties of flowers, yet looks so sophisticated! Look closely and you will realize that pattern is very easy to follow. This pookalam is shaped like a flower with rounded petals.
Include Some "Green" into the Design
Pookalams need not be made with just flowers. You can add leaves (chopped up or whole) to incorporate some green color into the design. The greenery in the pookalam indicates prosperity and is a great addition to the conventional pookalam design.
Intersecting Lines Design
This elaborate pookalam uses quite a lot of flowers. The complexity is a little notch up as the intersecting lines give a complicated look to the whole pookalam. It may look like hard work at first. But if you get your homework done right, then this pookalam is definitely worth a try.
3D Pookalam Design that Even Beginners Can Try
The secret to getting a 3d pookalam done, lies in creating a feeling of depth in the design. Notice the heaps of flowers placed in certain portions of the pookalam?! These extra flowers placed as a heap creates an illusion of a three-dimensional pattern
Spiral Pookalam Design
This may not appear to be a very sophisticated pookalam. But the real challenge here is to get the right symmetrical shape for every spiral round! If you don’t get the spirals well proportioned, then the whole pookalam is going to look awkward and messy.
The Aum Design
This is comparatively a complicated design to follow. However, with a little more practice and patience, you can get this pookalam done for sure! Aum is a sacred syllable and is considered a very powerful part of the sound. It symbolizes infinite power. It is the highlight of this pookalam and gives a complicated look to the Onam pookalam.
Theme Based Design -
Apart from the classic designs as shown above, you can also try your hand at theme-based ones like:
Vallam Kali or Boat Race Design
Vallam kali or the traditional boat race is an integral part of the Onam festival. It is conducted during the season of the harvest festival of Onam. This pookalam based on the Vallam kali is quite popular and usually is tried out at pookalam competitions. You have to pay close attention to the intricate details in the pookalam design.
Kathakali is the traditional dance form of Kerala. Creating an onam pookalam based on the kathakali theme would be most appropriate to try in the onam season. However this is a difficult one, and will need some experience to pull it off correctly!
Bonus Tip: You Can Add Props like Diya or Lamp to the Pookalam
You can add that extra glamour to the onam pookalam by lighting a few lamps or diyas, in or around the pookalam.
Deck Up Your Home
Clean your home and decorate it to make it look spic and span. Change your soft furnishings including cushions, curtains and even rugs. Opt for some floral prints or colours that signify nature. Keeping in mind the harvest theme, place a range of fruits in a basket and use it as a centrepiece for your dining table. How about adding some music to the celebrations? Place wind chimes near windows or doors and let the serenity fill your home.