The Colors of Onam – An Interview


It’s that time of the year when the colors of pookkalam (floral carpets) give you that nice, warm feeling, not allowing you to take your eyes away from the beautiful flowers and then leaving your mind in an absolute trance. Yes, Onam is here! What I look forward to most during Onam, besides the banana chips and the sadya (feast) is the pookkalam. From the simple one to the elaborate, it is really something to be seen.

In this post, I’m introducing a person whose passion is laying pookkalam during Onam. I only recently started following her on Facebook and was spell-bound by the designs that she chose. What struck me most was the innovative designs and the themes. So, on a hunch I asked her if she would do an interview for my blog and she consented, much to my relief.

Here is Dhanya Ajith, master pookkalam creator talking to us about Onam and pookkalam.

1. What does Onam mean to you?

Of all festivals celebrated, Onam is my favourite. It’s not just the 10 day long celebrations starting with beautiful pookkalam or scrumptious sadya that make it special but the involvement of entire family and friends in true festive spirit that makes it unique. Onam for me is getting closer to my roots in Kerala; celebrating a tradition passed on to us by parents and grandparents.

2. What is your first memory of Onam and pookkalam?

My first memory of Onam is of course a school vacation, celebrating with cousins and grandparents, vandalising backyard gardens and fields in search of Thumbapoo and Mukutti early in the morning and yummy lunch in banana leaf specially prepared by grandmother.

3. Do you believe that interest in pookkalam is dwindling, especially among the younger generation?

Yes, of course. In this fast-paced scenario people hardly get time to follow traditions to the core. Today, most of pookkalams are either limited to some competition or part of a one day community celebration.

4. What is your inspiration for the theme that you are doing this year?

It’s not just this year, every year I try a different theme. Something related to either the festival Onam or about Kerala. Started this idea after receiving queries from my friends abroad who wondered about my Facebook posts on pookkalam. They had a fair idea about India, so thought of sharing some information about Kerala as well. But most importantly I wanted to motivate my own kids on this regard.

5. Who is the biggest fan of your pookkalam?

Without doubt, it must be my friends in Facebook who give honest feedback about my posts.

Here is a collage of what she did in 2016. The variety really stands out.

Pookkalam Collage

Source: Dhanya Ajith. Not to be reproduced without permission.

Do check out and follow her on Facebook to read about and see her pookkalams for this year. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.

Thank you very much, Dhanya for consenting to the interview and gracing my blog. Here is wishing that you regale us even more with your innovative pookkalams.