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Floral Carpets and the Festival of Onam

by Oscar Leo
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Onam, the festival of harvest, is one of the most important festivals of Kerala (a state in India). It is a ten-day long festival starting with Atham (the first day) and ending with Thiruvonam (the last day of Onam). It is a season of much joy and excitement for both kids and adults alike. 

Like every other festival, Onam also has some specific ways in which it is celebrated. The festivities include competitions like vallamkali (boat race), vadamvali (tug of war), uriyadi (breaking the pot) and so on. Other notable attractions of the festival are puli kali, kaikottikali/thiruvadhira, pookalam (floral carpets) and sadhya (banquet lunch). Among all of these, dressing up in traditional Onam sarees (white sarees with gold borders), and presenting floral carpets in front of houses, associations, educational institutions, and working firms are an integral part of the festival. 

A competition of presenting floral carpets is one of the activities that is carried out in most places as a part of the celebration. The most common colours seen in flower carpets are red, orange, white, green, pink, violet, yellow, etc. A combination of these coloured flowers and leaves is used to make different patterns. Nowadays, these floral carpets are based on themes as well, and sometimes, to get the colours, people even use tea leaves or coffee dust to colour the snake boat. 

Every Malayali household also takes efforts to arrange floral carpets in front of their houses. Though plucking flowers and leaves from one’s garden is not encouraged on a normal day, making a floral carpet with the flowers and leaves from your garden for Onam is a joy in itself. Family members and friends gather together to celebrate the festival, and participating in each of these festivities multiplies the excitement and happiness of the occasion. 

Learn Names of Colours and Flowers

Onam can also turn out to be an occasion that can educate you to a great extent. Looking at colourful floral carpets can motivate you to learn colour names. Knowing the exact names of the colours can help you identify flowers that you can use for your floral carpet. A mix of white and red; red and yellow; yellow and orange; white, red and green; purple, white and pink can all be wonderful combinations that would make your floral carpets look beautiful in person and in the picture. 

In the same manner, the beauty of your floral carpet depends on the flowers you use. You should know which flowers would stay fresh for a longer period of time. Flowers are not simply placed as a whole; they are cut into smaller pieces so that it fits the pattern neatly. Not every flower petal would look nice even after it is cut. So, unless you know what flowers would be good and the flower names, you would not be able to get the right flowers or bring the effect you wish to see. Take a little extra effort, arrange beautiful flower carpets and celebrate the festival of Onam to its fullest. 


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