New Delhi: Colourful 'pookalams' or floral rangolis, which mark the beginning of Onam, set the tone for the celebrations of the Kerala harvest festival to get underway Sunday.
A total of 25 teams comprising five members each took part in the 'Pookalam' (floral carpet) competition organised by the Malayala Manorama media house in Delhi.
"We have been organising the floral competition for the past nine years. We provide a platform for Keralites living in the capital to come together and celebrate the festival with us," said Pankaj Belwariar, the media house's Senior Regional GM.
Onam, falls during the first Malayalam month of Chingam (August-September) and lasts 10 days.
It marks the homecoming of the mythical King Mahabali, who is believed to visit his kingdom once a year.
"The competition is an opportunity for us to interact with people from Kerala. We also show the younger generation, our children who have been brought up here, the manner in which the traditional festival is celebrated," said Sree Kumar from Mayur Vihar, a participant.
Over 200 people, including Malayalis from different walks of life, were present at the event.
The competition saw women clad in the traditional golden bordered white sarees and men in their dothis and kurtas.
Sudhakaran from Dwaraka, who was attending the function for the first time, said the event was "an exhilarating experience and a great way to start Onam".
A team comprising a teacher and his four students trumped the other 24 competitors to take away a cash prize of Rs 20,000 and a trophy.
"We have been participating in the competition from the very first edition. We bagged the top prize in the first edition as well. This time it is very special as our team includes three students from north India," said Ramachandran, a science teacher.
Images depicting landscape and culture of Kerala including Kathakali, coconut trees, snake boats and Mahabali, were part of the designs for the 'pookalams'.
The second and third runners up took home cash prizes of Rs 15,000 and Rs 10,000, respectively, along with trophies.
Other teams received participation prizes and certificates.