Pookalam: The Onam Floral Rangoli
Rangoli is one of the most popular traditional art form in India. It is a kind of decorative motif, usually a floor art using various forms of colors and flowers. Rangoli is considered very auspicious due to which it is an inevitable part of Hindu festivals. In kerala ‘Pookalam’ or the flower rangoli marks the festival of Onam. ‘Poo’ means ‘flower’ and ‘Kalam’ means artwork. Floral Rangoli or the ‘Onam Kolam’ is a very important part of the Onam celebrations. On the very propitious celebration of Onam, Malayalee families all over the world decorate the entrance of their home with flowers and colors. Pookalam is a colorful arrangement of colors and flowers on the floor.
Arranging a Pookalam everyday on floor is a ritual during the ten-day-long Oanm festival. Various flowers and colors are used each day; a particular flower is dedicated to each day of Onam. Beautiful designs are made using flowers and naturally derived colors along with cowdung. Traditionally the dyes for the Rangoli were derived from natural sources like indigo, barks of trees, vermilion, rice flour, turmeric and so on. These days’ synthetic dyes are more in use and have become very popular. Rangoli or Kolam are a very popular part of almost all kind of Hindu festivals throughout India. Pookalam or the floral rangoli is popular and considered auspicious in the Southern region of India during the most celebrated and ten-day long occasion of Onam.
The preparation for the Onam motifs starts with cleaning the floor where the pattern is to be made. Cowdung is considered very holy and spread over the entire wiped region. After spreading the cowdung, motifs are made using the hairline bamboo sticks or any pin like material. Pookalam is arranged in ten rings each defining a Hindu God. Then the pattern made on the cowdung is filled with flowers. The flowers that are used for the kolam includes Kakka Poovu, Thumba, Thechipoovu, Chemparathy, Mukkutti, Aripoo or Konginipoo , Hanuman Kireedom and Chethi . Thumba flowers are considered the best as they are small in size and glitter in the rays of the sun. The design of the floral kolam can be simple or elaborate in style depending on the preference of the designer. The design made on the veranda or at the entrance of the home sets the essence of the festival and fills the air with festivity. Pookalam forms a vital part in the welcoming celebration of King Mahabali who visits only once a year to enquire happiness of his people.
Significance of the Floral Rangoli
The floral rangoli or the ‘Pookalam’ is an integral part of the celebration of Onam. According to the legends mighty King Mahabali who once ruled the region, visit the land during these ten days of Onam festival. The beautiful motifs of flowers and colors are made at the entrance of the Malayalee house to make his soul happy and ensure happiness and prosperity forever. It is also said that the ten rings or the steps of the Pookalam represents the ten deities of the Hindu pantheon. First step defines Ganesha, second defines Shiva and Shakti, third to Shiva, fourth to Brahma, fifth to Pancha Boothangal, sixth to Shanmughan or Muruga, seventh step describe Guru, eighth step is for ashta digpalakar, ninth for Indra and tenth defines Lord Vishnu.