(6 Sep '05)
Each morning for the past 10 days, students from Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham have presented Amma with a beautiful pookkalam at the foot of the steps to her room.
The tradition of making pookkalams [flower-petal mandalas] is as ancient as India herself. It is considered auspicious to create small pookkalams outside one’s home each morning as a way of welcoming visitors. It is the first thing done after taking a bath and before doing the morning’s worship. Generally, pookkalams are small–perhaps, one foot in diameter. But the pookkalams the students made for Amma are typically around six-feet wide.
Starting at dawn, the students work from sketches they’ve created or modified from traditional designs. Each pookkalam takes about three hours to complete. First, the design is traced out on the ground with chalk. The dimensions of the designs are marked using string and tape. Then the sections of the design are filled in with variously coloured flower petals: rose, jasmine, hibiscus, tulasi, lotus and others. Amma says that the use of many different types of flower petals to make a pookkalam is symbolic of the coming together of hearts in society.