Onam is a very old harvest festival, celebrating the return of the mythical King Mahabali from the Underworld. It’s also a time of great bonding and feasting among families and the community. One of the most famous Onam traditions is to make a floral carpet called a pookalam.
This article explains how you and your kids can make your own pookalam, and some happy Onam wishes you could share with your friends and loved ones this year.
How to Make Pookalam
There are countless ways to create pookalam, and one is a unique and special tribute to the talent of its creator! Once you decide to make a pookalam, you and your kids can have lots of fun creating new designs together. Most pookalam have a circular shape, but there are plenty of alternative possibilities, such as star shapes, flower shapes, and hexagons – and inside the outline, the sky’s the limit!
You can use geometric shapes or swirls; more modern images like animals, plants, and people; or even footballs and words!
There are plenty of great ideas for pookalam online; this Pinterest board is a great place to start. Your kids can even create their own designs online using the software at www.pookkalam.in, or unleash their artistic sides by sketching out or painting their ideas before you put them into action.
Once you have an interesting design, the key to making a beautiful pookalam is choosing many vibrant, striking colours to fill the design. The colors come from flower petals, so see which kinds of flowers you can find at your local market. White, purple, yellow, and orange flowers create a striking contrast against each other. Flower leaves can be used to create green elements in the pookalam.
Here are the basic elements you’ll need to make a pookalam:
- A design you’ve decided on.
- A space on the floor where the pookalam will be.
- Enough flowers of different colours. Marigolds, asters, and chrysanthemums are easy flowers for separating petals.
- At least 1 brass lamp.
- Newspapers for holding the flower petals.
And here are some extra things that may help:
- A ruler of some kind, to help you create straight lines.
- Bowls and plates to arrange the flowers around – you can use these as a template to create circle shapes, then take them away and fill the space left behind.
Here are the basic steps for making your very own pookalam:
- Decide on a design, and how big it will be.
- Use the chalk to outline the design out on the floor, measuring carefully so the design is symmetrical.
- Place the brass lamp at the center of the pookalam, and put a candle inside.
- Decide which flowers will be kept whole, and which ones will be separated into petals. Now separate the petals and keep the colors in separate piles on the different sheets of newspaper. You can also tear off and shred the flower leaves to create a pile of green.
- Decide which sections of the design will be which colour, and start to fill these sections with the appropriate flower petals or whole flowers. If you have a very large design, you might want to leave areas unfilled up to the last minute, so that you and your little ones can work on all the sections of the pookalam without stretching.
- Once you have filled in all the sections, add other candles around the edges, if you’d like.
- Light the candles and enjoy your beautiful pookalam!
This is a fun activity the whole family can join in with. Some of you can draw the chalk outline on the floor, while the others can separate out the flower petals at the same time. When the pookalam is finished, you can all admire your hard work, which will last for the entire festival of Onam!
Sending Happy Onam Wishes
Once the pookalam is finished, you and your family can take a digital photograph in front of it and email it around to your friends and relatives. Add a phrase like “Wishing you a Blessed Onam” or “May your prayers be answered this Onam” or simply “Happy Onam!”. You could even add one of the Onam messages below!
May the spirit of Onam be with you,
Filling your home with all the brightness and joy
Of this special day!
Health and happiness to you and yours,
Like a pookalam,
You bring colour and joy,
Laughter and fun –
Wishing you a blessed Onam!
May your days be as sunny and bright
As the petals of your pookalam.
Now friends and relatives around the world can see the beautiful pookalam you and your family have created!
How are you celebrating Onam this year? Have you made a pookalam? Why not tell us your fondest memory of the festival in the comment box below, send us a Tweet, or share your pictures and thoughts on our Facebook page?