Kathakali Flower Rangoli for Onam at IISER Mohali Campus — Photo by Vidya Sury ©

Flower Power

Six Word Photo Story: “Freestyle”

The earth smiles at flower arrangements.

One of the most wonderful things about the festival of Onam, celebrated in Kerala, India, in September, is the fabulous flower rangolis made entirely of flowers and the mouthwatering menu. The flower arrangement is a simple freestyle design or theme around the festival, whose celebration is also marked by the famed Kathakali dance drama.

The beautifully intricate Kathakali-themed flower rangoli you see in the photo is made of flowers, flower petals, and leaves from the campus garden, thanks to the amazing gardeners. Charcoal was used for the black.

The whole thing took approximately six hours, with teams working together to separate the petals, then bring the gorgeous design together. What fun!

About the dance drama: ‘Katha’ means story and ‘Kali’ means dance and the performance is a harmonious blend of five forms of art namely, literature, music, painting, acting, and dance. No dialogs are spoken. The performance relies purely on mime, facial expression, gestures, and mudras.

The elaborate costume and makeup are magical to watch. The makeup involves several hours of face paint that transforms the artist’s face. The paint, composed of natural colors, is applied directly to the face.

The color of the face paint is significant and relates to the nature of the character being played. Green is divine, white is spiritual, red is aggressive, yellow is passive, and black is evil.

The artist initially applies the basic paint on his own. Next, the makeup artist takes over, with the design varying, depending on the character/role being played. Then, the kathakali artist lays on a mat for the elaborate designs on the face. Once this is done, next comes the costume.

Typically, all roles are played by male actor-dancers, though in modern performances, women have been welcomed into the Kathakali tradition. Yay!

Here is a glimpse of the kathakali dance:



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Vidya Sury, Collecting Smiles

Vidya Sury, Collecting Smiles


Writing about Self Improvement, Mindfulness, Meditation, Parenting, Health, Travel, Life, Books. Showing my diabetes who’s boss. Visit: https://vidyasury.com