Thiruvananthapuram: On the eve of Kerala's biggest festival Onam, prices of flowers have shot up as making floral carpets is the most striking feature of the harvest festival.

Kerala depends largely on neighbouring states like Tamil Nadu for flowers such as gomphrena ('Vadamalli' in local parlance), crossandra (Kanakambaram), marigold (jamanthi), chrysanthemum (arali) besides, rose and jasmine which are on high demand during Onam.

Local vendors here bring them from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh according to demand.

"The all round inflation does not spare flowers as well. Like vegetables, fruits and even basic provisions, flowers are also brought from production centres in other states", a florist at the Chalai market told.

Generally 'Vadamalli' and jamanthi (both yellow and orange shades) were the costliest in Onam seasons as they were inevitable for making traditional 'pookkalams', (floral carpets) they said.

Range of flowers available for Onam

"'Arali' and rose are available for prices ranging between Rs 80-200 per kg.’Vadamalli' and 'jamanthi' will cost between Rs 160-250," Unni, a leading florist, said.

To use 'jasmine' in floral carpets would end up just a dream for commoners this season as it costs Rs 600-800 in many places, he said.

Traders here mostly bring flowers mainly from Thovalai in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu, where a wide variety of flowers are cultivated on commercial scale.

It is an age-old custom of Kerala to lay 'floral carpets' in front of homes to welcome their mythical king Mahabali.

Not only homes, but schools, colleges, offices and other public places would also be decorated with floral carpets as part of the community festivity.

Local art clubs also organise competitions in floral carpeting.


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