Flower Power In Carpets
Flower Carpets have existed for centuries. They've tied in culture, tradition, and beauty through horticulture. It's an art form that's as fun to watch as it is to partake in. Here are a two cultures that have elevated the idea of a flower carpet into something spectacular.
The Annual Brussels Flower Carpet was rolled out, so to speak, in the middle of August with a theme that honors Brussels' Presidency over the European Union. Every year, they pack in about 800,000 begonias and dahlias amidst rolled turf to create gorgeous patterns bursting with color!
How do they do it?
This event started in 1971 when landscape architect E. Stautemans decided the world (or at least Brussels) should see the beauty of his favorite botanical, the Begonia, for all it's splendor. Since then, the plans have become more symbolic, international, and beautiful every year. It's interesting to see the changing themes and colors they've used over the years. I bet you'll guess the decades just by the pictures below...Here are some of my favorites.
This one is also from the 1990s-- my favorite for it's Art Nouveau leanings and the way it contrasts the classic and ancient architecture in the area. All images are via here.
Onam (pronounced "O-Numb") is the biggest celebration in the state of Kerala, India and evolved around the legend of mythical king Mahabali who is said to have been a ruler of peace, life, and joy. Onam is symbolic of his rule and includes festivities like the "Snake Boat" races, cultural dances like Katha Kalli, a special nine course meal served on banana leaves, and "Pookalam", the art of creating floral patterns on the ground. The event lasts for ten days in August/September and the design of the pookalam traditionally takes just as much time. Each day, a specific flower would be used. You would stumble upon pookalams in public and private spaces everywhere that use local flowers like "Thumba", "Mukkutti", "Chethi", and the Red Pagoda plant, creating gorgeous works of art. Each Pookalam is uniquely designed and created by hand.
This year, the city of Kozhikode created, Snehapookalam, the world's largest flower carpet (as determined by the Guinness World Book of Records) with the help of over 1000 locals in exactly 2 hours and 8 minutes. A pookalam of 151 feet in diameter and over 17,500 square feet boasted over 33,000 lbs of Chrysanthemum, Chethi, Vadamalli, and Dahlias. The concept behind the exercise was to celebrate unity, brotherhood, and harmony through creating beauty together.
Women dressed in traditional Onam garb of off-white and gold bordered saris arrange flowers quickly! Photo by K. Ragesh
Can you imagine the wonderful scent of flowers that filled the air? Photo by C. Sunish
This art form is a site to be seen and if you're as inspired as I am, start planning your 2011 trip to Kerala and Brussels now for next year's display.