Friday, August 31, 2012

Onam....A riot of colours!

By Anuradha K. R

Photography: M.V. Pranjal

“Onam”.....Just an utterance of the name is enough to bring innumerable picturesque images chasing each other in our mind’s eye...

One of the most secular festivals of India, Onam is celebrated during Chingam, the first month of the Malayalam Calendar by the Malayali community across the globe. It marks the harvest season and is observed by people cutting across religious lines.

A festivity lasting ten days, Pookalam(floral rangoli), the famed Vallamkali (snake-boat races), mouth-watering traditional delicacies, Pulikkali (literally, play of the tigers, is a folk dance form that depicts tiger hunting, especially performed to entertain people on Onam) Oonappottan (traditional Kerala art form)... the list is almost endless! Of all these, the one thing that most typically characterises Onam is the Pookalam, the flower carpet, diligently made by female folk, to celebrate the home-coming of king Mahabali.

Oonappottan                                                                                                                                     Photograph: Courtesy

Pulikkali                                                                                                                                               Photograph: Courtesy

The legend has it that the mighty king of Kerala, Mahabali was loved by all but known for his vanity and egoistic ambitions. Lord Vishnu feared that he may conquer all the three worlds and decided to stop him. Taking his fifth incarnation as Vaamana, a dwarf Brahmin priest, he approached king Mahabali, asking for a piece of land just as tiny as what he could cover with his three steps. Mahabali, known for his generosity, happily agreed. Vaamana then went on expanding himself to cosmic proportions and with his first and second steps, had covered the whole of earth and the sky. The king, who didn’t want to go back on his words, asked Vaamana to place his third step on his head and Vaamana did so, pushing the king to Paataala, the world below. It’s believed that the king visits his subjects during Onam every year and his subjects make elaborate preparations to celebrate his visit.  

Pookalam                                                                                                                                     Photograph: Courtesy

Pookalams, the highlight of Onam, are made using petals of fresh flowers. They’re normally circular in shape, containing geometric patterns, and are laid out in different colours. Kaikottikali, a traditional clap dance of Kerala, is performed around these floral carpets, by women in some areas. The design elements of Pookalam have such an appeal that they’ve surpassed the boundaries of Kerala. This, in a way has expanded the boundaries of Pookalam itself, with creative minds endowing them with fresh ideas, in various parts of the country and abroad too.

Pookalam                                                                                                                                                               Photography: M.V. Pranjal

Pookalam                                                                                                                                                               Photography: M.V. Pranjal

 Let alone the Onam feast; Pookalam itself is nothing less than a feast for our eyes! 

Pookalam                                                                                                                                                               Photography: M.V. Pranjal

Pookalam                                                                                                                                                               Photography: M.V. Pranjal

1 comment :

  1. Its a beautiful idea of keeping our culture alive.


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