The Hindu MetroPlus Pookkalam contest celebrates the spirit of Onam

The excitement at the Government Women's College was palpable as contestants filed in for the fourth edition of The Hindu MetroPlus Pookkalam contest. Forty-nine teams participated in this floral event. With heaps of rainbow-coloured flowers among them, the teams skilfully wove floral carpets inside the space allotted to them in the set time of two-and-a-half hours.

Each team comprised five members and team work was the name of the game as the groups divided the segments of the pookkalam among their team mates. And soon jasmine, oleander, marigold, lotus, bachelor's buttons, asters, roses, leaves of tulsi and the like were carefully laid out in eye-catching patterns that captured the spirit of Onam.

Circular designs

While some used whole flowers, others used petals to create delicately hued designs. Circular patterns were a common feature at the competition. However, while the previous years saw contestants coming up with innovative designs, this year saw them keeping it simple yet elegant. While most of the pookkalams had a lit traditional lamp, some of the contestants adorned their pookkalams with earthen lamps and ?Thrikkarara appans.'

The judges for the pookkalam contest, S. Ajayakumar (Principal, Fine Arts College) and Shaji Vamanapuram (Fine Arts College lecturer in Applied Art) had their work cut out in selecting the winning pookalams from amidst the sea of floral tapestry.

Although the pookkalams looked similar, a closer look revealed differences in patterns, designs and colours. In fact, the judges took an extra 30 minutes to finalise the winners as the contestants were seen patiently waiting for the results after a sumptuous meal of biriyani.

As the contestants knew that two awards would be given for the best traditionally dressed contestants, most of them were dressed in the colours of Onam (cream and gold).

Sheila James, proprietor of Czarina, had the daunting task of picking the winners. She chose the two winners on the basis of how neatly they had draped their saris, the colour co-ordination between sari and blouse, accessories and the like. Anjana Harikumar, a part of the Logtech team, and Parvathy Sudheesh, an employee of KINFRA, walked away with the prizes.

King Mahabali

Ambu Marar, who dresses up as Mahabali during the Onam season, graced this year's event too. In fact, the good king was seen walking around the auditorium admiring the various pookalams, as a percussion team announced his presence with loud, rhythmic beats. The jovial Mahabali, who seemed to be enjoying his day out, was seen suggesting the beat the percussion team should take at one point.

Indu Thampy, Miss Kerala 2010, the chief guest for the event, was dressed for the event in a Kerala sari. She brightened the venue with her exuberance as she distributed the top prizes.

That the pookalam contest is a family affair was highlighted when the prize winners and their families who acted as cheerleaders flocked to the stage to collect the prizes and to pose for pictures with the beauty queen.

Visitors were seen clicking pictures of these floral wonders after the results were announced. Some even stopped for a photo with Mahabali.

A lucky dip saw many visitors walking away with prizes. As the event came to an end participants and visitors left with fond memories. And, no doubt, dreaming of winning designs for the fifth edition of the contest.

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