Onam Athapookalam: The Traditional Floral Carpet of Kerala
Onam is the biggest and most popular festival in Kerala, which is celebrated every year during the Malayalam month of Chingam (August-September). The festival is a celebration of the harvest season and the return of King Mahabali, a mythological king who ruled Kerala in ancient times. The festival is marked by various cultural events, rituals, and feasts.
One of the essential parts of Onam is the Athapookalam, also known as Pookalam. Athapookalam is a traditional floral carpet made with colorful flower petals, arranged in intricate designs. The word "Athapookalam" is derived from two Malayalam words - "Atham," which means the first day of Onam, and "Pookalam," which means a carpet of flowers.
The tradition of making Athapookalam during Onam dates back to ancient times. According to legends, the goddess of prosperity and wealth, Mahalakshmi, visits every home during Onam to bless them with prosperity and happiness. To welcome the goddess, people prepare the Athapookalam in front of their homes.
Making Athapookalam is a collective effort, and people of all ages, from children to elders, participate in it. Women usually lead the process of making the carpet, and they use a variety of flowers to create intricate designs. Some of the popular flowers used to make Athapookalam are Marigold, Chrysanthemum, Rose, Lotus, and Dahlia.
Athapookalam is not just a beautiful floral carpet, but it also has a symbolic significance. The flowers used in making Athapookalam represent different qualities and virtues. For instance, Marigold represents courage and confidence, Lotus represents purity and enlightenment, and Chrysanthemum represents honesty and loyalty.
The designs of Athapookalam are also significant, and they represent various aspects of Kerala's culture and mythology. Some of the popular designs are the traditional circular shape with a dot in the center, representing the cosmos, and the design of Mahabali's footprints, representing his return to Kerala.
In conclusion, Athapookalam is an essential part of Onam, and it represents the cultural richness and diversity of Kerala. Making Athapookalam is not just a tradition, but it is also a way to promote community bonding and social harmony. The beautiful floral carpet is a sight to behold and adds to the festive atmosphere of Onam.