Onam Pookkalam – Kerala Culture & Tradition

Onam Pookkalam: Kerala Flower Rangoli

Onam Pookkalam: Onam is a colorful festival celebrated by Malayalees all over the world. It is the state festival of Kerala (India). Pookkalam, the floral decoration (also known as floral carpet) is one of the most important part of Onam, which is also a harvest festival. Simple as well as intricate floral designs are laid at the verandah of every household, on the wonderful occasion of Onam. Making Pookkalam is a tradition followed by people of Kerala, during the ten days of the festival. This is done to welcome their benevolent legendary king – Mahabali, as he visits Kerala every year on Onam, to inquire about their well being.

Read on to know more about Onam Pookkalam.

What is Onam Pookkalam?

In Malayalam, the word ‘Poo’ means flower and ‘Kalam’ means artwork. Hence, Pookkalam is the artwork or design that is laid on floor. It is one of the main attractions of the festival. Pookkalam is laid on Attam, the first day of the ten-day carnival of Onam and continued for the following nine days of the festival. During the festive season, you can see one Pookkalam laid on each household in Kerala, irrespective of the caste and religion. This is mainly because of the fact that Onam is the state festival of Kerala.

Onam Pookkalam Designs

Pookkalam designs can be both simple and intricate. Some of the common designs of Pookkalam may resemble birds such as peacock, parrot, theme such as the festival, Kerala and the image of King Mahabali. The face of Kathakali is a popular design chosen for Pookkalam. Apart from the popular ones, geometrical designs are also used for the same. People use their creative mind to the level best, to come up with beautiful intricate and unique designs for Pookkalam. Cultural dances of Kerala, including Mohiniyattam and Kathakali are some of the popular themes chosen for Pookkalam.

How is Onam Pookkalam Made?

Pookkalam is traditionally made using flowers. However, in the modern time, especially at Pookkalam competitions, people are allowed to make use of leaves and sepals (cut into small pieces) of the big flowers. Shredded coconut and artificial colors have become a part of the Pookkalam, though they are not permitted in most of the competitions. Wet cow dung is smeared and flower petals are placed on it. People in Kerala, who have been making the floral carpet since a long time, would start laying the flowers by conceiving the design in mind. On the other hand, the amateurs would draw a sketch of the design and fill the outline with flowers.


Pookkalam competitions are some of the main attractions of Onam. During the festive season, a number of committees organize Pookkalam competitions for people of different age groups. The participants are provided space for the floral carpets, within which, they have to lay their design. The Pookkalam are adjudged upon their quality and the arrangement of flowers.

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