Onam is the season where Pookkalams (floral carpet) are all over the place from Atham to Uthradam in Kerala. Earlier it was just the native flowers that were used in a Pookkalam. But now, these flowers are scarce even in villages. Gone are the days when kids collected the flowers in yam leaves and sang along to the Onam songs like ‘Poove Poli’. Most of the customs of the past are no longer practised now. It is now rare to find the thumba, thechi, mukkutti, kannanthali, krishnakireedam, kashithumba flowers in a Pookkalam. These days the jamanthi, dalia, chendumalli, arali and different kinds of roses from other states make the Pookkalam colourful.
Flowers from Gundalpet in Karnataka, Thovala, Tenkasi, Sundarapandiapuram, Ayikudi and Sambavar Vadakarai in Tamil Nadu fill the flower markets in Kerala. Farming is carried out in over 1,000 acres in other states to boost the flower market sales during the Onam season in Kerala. The Chendumalli and Jamanthi flowers are brought from Gundalpet to Kerala during June-July and August months until the end of the Onam season. The yellow chendumalli, rose, marigold and velvet flowers are brought from Thovala.
Chala in Thiruvananthapuram, the biggest flower market in South Kerala, gets its flowers mainly from Thovala. Flowers are also obtained from Hosur in Karnataka. Many efforts to control the flower prices were made so that we can use our own flowers for our Onam celebrations. Flower farming has been made extensive in many districts in the state for the purpose. Many self-governing institutions also support these farmers. With the growing demand for flowers owing to the many competitions in clubs and organizations, it has become imperative that we grow our own flowers.