The sun-coloured jamanthis (marigold) are being changed by crimson chethi (ixora); the little purple globes of vadamalli (gomphrena) are making method for the blended hues of kongini poo (lantana). With kattumulla (wild jasmine), tulsi (basil), chemparathy (hibiscus) and kolambi poo (golden trumpet vine) making a comeback, pookkalams this Onam are going native.

The pandemic-imposed restrictions have prompted Malayalis to show to their backyards for a artistic pookkalam this yr.

Made with PPE scrap

  • Social entrepreneur Lakshmi Menon has made a pookkalam utilizing PPE scrap. “We lower the PPE scrap into shreds and dyed it in material paint. Even the Onathappan is made with scarp,” she says including that the recycled pookkalam is reusable and can be utilized subsequent yr too. The pookkalams of 2020 will go down in historical past as probably the most artistic ones,” she says.

Over the previous three many years, the season has come to be marked by flowers from neighbouring States. As Pookkalam competitions turned the norm, places of work and establishments purchased flowers in bulk. Even the common-or-garden residence pookkalams started to be stuffed with oleanders, asters, marigolds and bachelor’s buttons that got here from Tamil Nadu and Bangalore.

Nonetheless, there was a time when the wild flowers that carpeted waysides and hills have been the harbinger of Onam in Kerala. Poet-lyricist Jayageetha reminisces her childhood in Kollam: “Dew drops glistened on the flowers as we plucked them from branches or picked them from earth nonetheless moist from the rain. The pookkalam needed to be made earlier than we rushed to highschool. So gathering the flowers was completed as quickly because it was dawn,” she remembers.

Again to the fundamentals

This yr, it’s a likelihood to return to the fundamentals, says businessman Balram Menon, who found a wide range of wild flowers on his biking observe in Kanjiramattom, Kochi. Alongside along with his seven-year-old son Ram, he began plucking them. “We really feel it’s safer to utilize the native flowers for the pookkalam this time,” says Balram.

Parvathy Vinod from Thiruvananthapuram too may have a very native floral carpet this yr. “My cousins and sisters stay shut by and so my children will collect the flowers from everybody’s backyard,” she says.

The flower markets due to this fact put on a dismal air. A median store in Chala in Thiruvananthapuram, one of many greatest home markets for flowers in Kerala, bought flowers value ₹6 to ₹7 lakh final yr. In the course of the 10 days of Onam, gross sales went up from 25 kg to just about 200-250 kg on the penultimate day of Onam.

“This yr, we’ve got ordered lesser portions of flowers. With social distancing in drive and all festivities cancelled, the demand for flowers is certain to be a lot much less,” says Sashidharan Nair, secretary of the Flower Retailers’ Affiliation in Chala.

Flowers at Chala normally arrive from Thovalai, Dindigul, Rayakottai and Madurai in Tamil Nadu; Hosur and Bengaluru in Karnataka.

Thumba story

  • Legend has it that the flowers of Thumba (Leucas aspera) have been the favorite of King Mahabali. So no pookalam can do with out these flowers. “In lots of households in Palakkad, on the day of Thiruvonam, the flowers of Thumba are used to make pooada. Ada is fabricated from rice flour and it’s full of the flowers of Thumba and slices of nendran banana,” says writer-director Kalidas Puthumana.

“Company and academic establishments have migrated to digital pookkalam contests,” says Surendran KG of Gopi’s Flower Mart in Paravur. “So, there’s little or no expectation,” he provides.

Enterprise has diminished to 20% of the standard, says Radhakrishnan, proprietor of Atham Flowers, a flower store at Patturaikkal, Thrissur. The one flowers which might be being bought, although few in quantity, are marigold and bur flower, he provides, as they’re used to make garlands. The pandemic has not affected the price of the flowers, a kilo of marigold prices Rs 60, says one other flower vendor in Thrissur.

Pookkalam made with PPE scrap

Pookkalam made with PPE scrap

The month of Chingam can be a time for weddings. “With COVID-19 protocols in place, we’ve got acquired only a few orders,” says N S Prakash, who has been working a flower stall in Ernakulam for the previous 27 years. “With most centres of worship nonetheless closed to devotees, enterprise has come crashing down for distributors like me,” he says.

In pre-COVID occasions, he bought 5,000 lotus flowers a day. Now, the sale has come all the way down to 100 flowers a day. Whereas the lotuses got here from Nagercoil in ten sacks, containing 500 flowers every, day-after-day, the ixora and tulsi got here from Tiruchi and Madurai. “Now, for the reason that demand has dropped, I don’t get the flowers,” says Prakash.

The flower business has been struggling for the reason that 2018 flood, says Pleasure Alexander, managing director of Flower Depot on TD Street, Kochi, which has been within the enterprise for the previous 35 years. “The pandemic has simply sounded the dying knell for an already ailing business. Kerala had a marketplace for ₹5 crore, which has now come all the way down to a ₹5 lakh,” he says.

Previous regular

For individuals who grew up within the seventies and eighties, nonetheless, that is how their Onams have been. Flowers have been sourced from family gardens or the commons in villages.

Native pookkalam

Native pookkalam

“Shopping for flowers was exceptional in these days,” says blogger Manjusha Pisharody, a resident of Mumbai who hails from Palakkad. She provides, “It didn’t actually matter the place you picked them from. Because the harvest could be over by the point of Onam, fields and waysides could be coated with small blooms.”

(Inputs: Saraswathy Nagarajan, Priyadershini S)