Pookalam contest in Delhi to mark Onam

New Delhi: The aroma of fresh flowers and incense filled the air at the Chinmaya Mission here as Delhiites gathered to mark the beginning of Onam.

There was even a `pookalam` or floral pattern contest organised by Malayala Manorama, the media house.

This was the eighth time that the contest was being held to mark the beginning of the 10-day rituals of Onam.

Women clad in traditional off-white sarees made floral patterns.

Onam, celebrated largely in Kerala, marks the homecoming of king Mahabali during the harvest season.

"It is tradition with a little bit of innovation from the contestants. It is one of the things that holds the community together," said R. Prasannan, chief of bureau, Malayala Manorama.

"Delhi and the national capital region have over three lakh families of Malayalis," Prasannan added.

This year, there were 26 teams participating in the contest. Each comprised five members who were given three hours to prepare a floral pattern.

The contestants were allowed to use 75 percent natural flowers and 25 percent supplements such as rice.

Indu Venugopal, a participant from Indirapuram, said the event was an exhilarating experience, a great way to start Onam. It was the first time she was participating in the contest.

IANS