Inspired designs and artistry were the specialty of this edition of Parle-The Hindu MetroPlus Pookkalam Contest powered by SBT

Athapookkalams, heralding the grand festival of Onam in Kerala, have become an art in themselves. The simple designs of yore, shaped from backyard flowers, have been transformed with artistry, inspired designs, bold shapes, floral surprises and innovative use of petals. It is teamwork as of the old but requiring patience and professionalism.

All these were in evidence at the Parle- The Hindu MetroPlus Pookkalam contest, powered by the State Bank of Travancore, here on Saturday. The teams that won the first three prizes were noted for the professional quality of their art. They have been competing in various Pookkalam contests across Malabar and have made a habit of winning.

The Pookkalam of the Avittam Plachikkara team from Kasaragod that bagged the first prize was noted for the rare flowers and leaves used. Coconut flowers, acacia flowers, finely chopped red amaranthus and Chiyothi, a rare fern found on rocks, found a place in the work. The design was given a three-dimensional look and a perfect finish by using finely chopped flowers.

Pookkodan Brothers from Tenhipalam in Malappuram district were a close contender for the title until the last minute. Their work was noted for attractive colour combinations and the use of black to make other colours stand out. They too employed the 3-D effect.

The Meyanappurath team from Kakkodi in Kozhikode, which bagged the third prize, are seasoned champions in the field for 20 years. Their work stood out for its sheer artistry. The picture of a young boy and girl picking flowers was drawn in flowers in photographic quality. The shading technique has been employed brilliantly using chopped flowers.

Giving the 10 consolation prizes was difficult for the judging panel of Francis Kodankandath and Shashi Edavarad, artists, considering the competition. The teams Jwala Residents’ Association, Wings, Malabar Hospitals, Rainbow, Fives of Chettikkandy, Netaji Nagar-2, Valsala and Team, Priyadarshini Arts, PYB and Ekam Residents’ Association bagged those prizes.

The first-prize winners got Rs.20,000. The second-prize winners took home Rs.12,500. The third-prize winners got Rs.7,500. The consolation prize was Rs. 1,500 each. The winners received attractive gifts from the sponsors. All the participating teams were given Rs. 750 as reimbursement towards flower expenses.

The participants got as much importance as the Pookkalams at the event. The participants were given a challenge to dress traditionally and win prizes for it. Vineesh of Jwala Residents’ Association was chosen as the best dressed male participant. Vithula from Fives of Chettikkandy was chosen the best dressed female participant. The team prize in the category was bagged by the Netaji Nagar Residents’ Association, all members of which had dressed identically. Children and adults participated actively in the fun contests held after the Pookkalam contest.

Shahbaz Aman, music director, gave away the prizes to the winners at the valedictory function held in the afternoon. In his address, Mr. Aman said Onam was a nostalgic memory to all and it had a relevant message in its myth.

He sang many of the songs that gained him a unique place in Malayalam cinema.

M. Praveen, Regional Sales Manager of Parle Products; M. Rajiv, District Coordinator of Kerala Social Security Mission; Mr. Edavarad; N.V. Balamurali, Assistant Regional General Manager of The Hindu, Kozhikode; and T.N. Ravi Varma, Regional Manager (Advertisement); were present. Thirty-three teams from across Malabar took part in the competition.

The title sponsor was Parle, powered by the State Bank of Travancore. Kerafed and the Kerala State Social Security Mission were the associate sponsors. The gift sponsors were Focus Shirts, Happy, Baby Care, Tierra Foods, Vismay Sarees, TTK Prestige and Synthite Kitchen Treasure.