Pookalam is a special arrangement of flowers. It is also referred as ‘Athapookalam’. Pookalam is created at the time of Onam. This is a very traditional way of celebrating Onam. It is believed that the great King, Mahabali will come to watch the Pookalam on the day of ‘Thiruvonam’. Most of the Pookalam are designed circular in shape. A variety of flowers are used for creating Pookalam.
Design is the primary thing needed for creating a pookalam. First the design is drawn on a paper. Let’s make a design of a sample pookalam. This a pookalam with circular and symmetric shape. To make the design simple as possible, complex design elements like boat, kathakali, etc are not used.
Before start designing the pookalam, the first thing needed is to identify the design elements. Design element can be defined as a shape that we are using in the pookalam. Create a few design elements separately before putting it in the actual design. The design element can be a leaf, a flower petal, a diamond etc, see picture below. Once the design elements are ready, it’s time to decide how these elements can be incorporated in the pookalam.
Divide the circle into 8 0r 16 equal parts. Each of this divided part forms an arc. We need to design for a single arc, simple. But it is important to think that how the design will look when we encapsulate these arcs into a circle.
Draw inner circles to separate the circle into layers. Separate the circle in such a way that the outer circle takes more space than the inner circles. See the picture below.
The circle is now divided into pieces. Put the design elements in each piece to form a design for the arc. Once the design of the arc is complete, repeat the same design over the entire arc. The design of the pookalam is ready now. See pictures.
Here is the finished design of the Onam Pookalam.
Drawing Pookalam on floor
Once the design is ready on the paper the next challenge is to recreate the design on the floor. For drawing the design on paper we may use pencil, scale etc. For drawing the design on floor the tool set is different. For drawing the design on the floor we can use chalk or crayons. Follow the same steps that we did for drawing the pookalam on the paper.
Decorating the Pookalam
After drawing the design on the floor the next step is to decorate the design. For decorating the design flowers and leaves are used. Once the design is there on the floor it is to get the things together. Just have to follow the lines while putting the flowers/leaves on the floor.
Various flowers are used on each day as a specific flower is dedicated to each day of Onam. Commonly used flowers include Thumba (Lucas Aspera), Kakka Poovu, Thechipoovu, Mukkutti (little tree plant), Chemparathy (shoe flower), Aripoo or Konginipoo (Lantana), Hanuman Kireedom (Red pagoda plant) and Chethi (Ixora). Thumba flowers are considered as important in Pookalam as they are small in size and glitter in the the soft rays of the sun.
Find more images here.