Know About Onam Pookalam And The Flowers Used For It

Onam is one of the harvest festivals celebrated by the Malayalee community of the State of Kerala. According to their regional calendar, people celebrate this 10 day-long festival in the month of ‘Chingam’ on 22nd Nakshatra Thiruvonam which usually falls under the months of August and September. As per the story behind this festival is concerned, it is celebrated to mark the arrival of King Mahabali in the state of Kerala who was a descendant of Brahmin sage named Kashyapa and the grandson of Prahlada.

Some of the major highlights of this festival is enjoying or participating in ‘Vallam Kali‘ (the boat races) and enjoying some of the regional dance forms like ‘Pulikali‘ (the tiger dances), ‘Onam Kali‘, ‘Thumbi Thullal’ (women’s dances), ‘Kummattikali‘ (mask dances) and ‘Athachamayam‘ (folk songs and dances). Other than these activities, a presentation of ‘Onathallu‘ (martial arts) along with ‘Onavillu‘ (music), ‘Kazhcha Kula‘ (plantain offerings), ‘Onapottan‘ (costumes) also takes place on this day to welcome King Mahabali.

Talking of all the activities, one such activity that interests people of every age group is Onam Pookalam which literally means Onam flower rangolis or the patterns made with flower petals. Usually, the Onam Pookalam is made round in shape and then filled with intricate detailing with colourful flower petals. You can think of some creative designs that you wish to execute and here’s a list of flowers that you can fill your beautiful flower arrangements with. You can get these flowers easily from your nearest flower market or someone’s courtyard or garden.

Fun fact - The rangoli is made on the first day of Onam is called “Athapoo '' as it is made on Atham (which means the first day), and continues till the very last day or Thiruvonam.

1. Thumba or Ceylon Slitwort

It is a cute white flower which is the very essence of the Onam festivities. On the day of Atham, the pookalam consists of only these flowers.

Thumba or Ceylon Slitwort

2. Tulasi

The green colour of the Tulasi doesn’t just make the rangoli look colourful and vivid but also makes the premises fragrant and serene. It is an integral part of the Onam Pookalam.


3. Chethi or Flame Of The Woods

The vibrant colour red flower fillings in an Onam Pookalam is made with these flowers. It is known to be the official Onam flower as it adds its charm to the whole rings of the floral rangoli, making it seem pretty attractive.

Chethi or Flame Of The Woods

4. Chemparathy or Hibiscus or Shoe Flower

Hibiscus flowers are quite a common sight on an Onam pookalam due to its bright dark red colour. A carpet of this flower is made on Onam as part of the colourful floral rangoli creation.

Chemparathy or Hibiscus or Shoe Flower

5. Sankhupushpam or Butterfly Pea

Many people like to use these Shankupushpam flowers to add an additional wow appeal to their Onam Pookalam. These blue flowers with yellow as its core colour blooms beautifully in Kerala and other southern parts of India.

Sankhupushpam or Butterfly Pea

6. Jamanthi or Marigold

Playing a crucial part in Athapookalam, marigold flowers or Jamanthi, as it is referred to in colloquial language is one of the much-used flowers during Onam festivities. It comes in many hues like yellow, white, red and orange, all of which gives a charming look to your Pookalam.

Jamanthi or Marigold

7. Mandaram

A very common flower used in Kerala for Onam pookalam purpose due to its big sized petals and the scent it leaves creating a fresh ambience. They are white in colour and a woman making Pookalam needs to just pluck and place it on her design.


8. Kongini or Lantana

Smaller in size and being the traditional Athapoo flowers Kongini flowers are loved by all and are used in the beautiful floral rangolis. They come in different colours like red, blue, orange, yellow and white.

Kongini or Lantana

9. Hanuman Kereedam or Red Pagoda Flower

Structure appears to be resembling a red pagoda ( and hence the name), Hanuman Kereedam flowers are used by the people of Northern Kerala in their colourful Pookalam.

Hanuman Kereedam

10. Mukuthi

There is something particularly charming about yellow flowers. Isn’t it? Which is why Mukuthi flowers are used in Onam Pookalam to make the dullest designs of rangolis seem vibrant in colour.


So, these were a few flowers that are widely used to make beautiful Onam Pookalam. In case you are wondering how to make an Onam Pookalam with these flowers, then let us take you through it even.

Onam Pookalam

● Start by sketching out your Onam Pookalam or rangoli design on a cellophane paper with a marker or over a large chart paper. Make sure, the size of the chart paper or the cellophane paper is equal to the Pookalam you wish to make.
● Fill out colours over the detailing made of the Onam Pookalam.
● Shop or pluck out for the different coloured of flowers that you wish to put on your Onam Pookalam.
● Then place your paper Pookalam design on the area where you would like to fill it with.
● Separate the flower petals and start filling your Onam pookalam with and your floral rangoli for Onam is ready to impress all.