Today is Onam, the mother of all festivals in Kerala. It is the day when the legendary King Mahabali makes his annual visit to all Malayali homes. To welcome him, a pookalam (flower arrangement) is made in front of the house.
When I was young, I'd wake up early on Onam and go on a flower picking expedition. Flowers from the garden and the wayside were collected and arranged in rings. The flower gathering trek was as much a part of the festival as the final arrangement. Today, pookalams are often grander, but the flowers are usually always bought.
|Pookalam - 2011; Tuberose, Rose, Chrysanthemum, Jasmine, Lotus, etc.|
Here is our little pookalam made by my little boy (and me). My mother always insisted on a hibiscus flower in the centre. It symbolises the koda (umbrella), she said, ubiquitous in Kerala.
And this is last year's pookalam.
|Pookalam: 2010; Jasmine, Rose, Chrysanthemum, Marigold, etc.|
Onam is about flowers, Onasadyas (feasts), new clothes and revelry. Happy Onam!