Thrissur on Sunday prepared for Onam by laying out a giant 'Pookkalam' (floral carpet) on the Thekkinkadu Maidan in front of Sree Vadakkumnathan Temple that hosts the famous Thrissur Pooram.
On 'Atham' day, which marks the beginning of the ten-day Onam festivities, a group of friends who call themselves 'Thrissur Saayahna Souhrida Koottayma' arranged the 'Pookkalam' that measured 60 feet in diameter.
A variety of flowers weighing over a tonne, including marigold, globe amaranth and chrysanthemum were used in the Pookkalam that attracted hundreds from as early as 3 am. Over 200 volunteers took part in decorating the Pookkalam.
This is the 16th year in a row that the group of friends has arranged a giant Pookkalam on the southern entrance to the temple.
Announcing the arrival of 'tigers'
The 'kodiyettam' (flag hoisting) heralding the annual 'puli kali' was conducted by Thrissur Municipal Corporation Mayor MK Varghese in a separate function on Sunday.
Puli Kali is a traditional folk art, where men dance on the streets after applying body paints to resemble tigers, leopards and other big cats. Puli Kali is held on 'naalam Onam', the fourth day of the Onam festivities. Five teams will participate in this year's Puli Kali.
'Government should fund Puli Kali'
The Mayor said that the state government should bear the expenses of the 'Puli Kali'. “The Thrissur Corporation is lending maximum financial assistance to the teams that participate in the Puli Kali. However, every year, the teams end up in heavy financial burden. The number of teams and the number of artists keep dwindling due to financial issues. This is a unique Onam art performed only in Thrissur and thousands of people, including foreigners throng Thrissur to be part of the festivities,” the Mayor said, explaining the need for the state government to intervene in the matter.