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Onam weaves for 2022 comes alive with blooms and Kerala-themed motifs

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Designers dress up the traditional cream-and-gold Kerala cotton with hand-painted motifs, embroidery, cut work and more

Designers dress up the traditional cream-and-gold Kerala cotton with hand-painted motifs, embroidery, cut work and more

Shades of cream, ivory, off-white, gold and silver capture the season of festivities in the warp and weft of handwoven textiles bought as Onakodi, new clothes specifically bought for the festival. Over the years, special Onam collections celebrate the harvest festival with motifs and colours that symbolise the season. And what better way to welcome the festival than with blooms? Flowers are an integral part of Onam, when paddy fields turn golden and Nature is decked in her best.

To capture the mood of the harvest, Kochi-based actor-designer Poornima Indrajith’s festival collection highlights sheaves of ripened paddy on saris, dress material in  Kerala cotton bordered with gold zari and embroidered bespoke blouses. She explains: “As part of my homework to create something special for Onam, I decided to focus on Nellkathir (ripe, golden panicles of paddy), which symbolises prosperity and abundance. Hand-embroidered on the sari, the motif gives a three-dimensional effect. The collection, Nellu: the Seeds of Hope, has the motif paired with colours such as mint green, orange and red,” says Poornima. Saris, salwar suits and dresses have her signature nellu motif this year.

In Thiruvananthapuram, Valentina Abenavoli wants to usher in Onam 2022 with a bouquet of flowers. Sprigs of deep yellow laburnum, red hibiscus, and delicate blossoms in pinks and blues blossom on cream-and-gold Kerala cottons, the traditional hues of Onam. The floral accent also manifests as intricate cut work on saris. The Blooms collection of Ethnic Weaves, a boutique store, showcases Valentina’s evergreen garden.

Valentina Abenavoli’s Onam line has embroidered blossoms on Kerala cottons
| Photo Credit: Special arrangement

 Blossoms painted on Kerala cotton saris is the USP of Nivethitha Sanjay’s brand Turmerik

Blossoms painted on Kerala cotton saris is the USP of Nivethitha Sanjay’s brand Turmerik
| Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Nivethitha Sanjay’s offering for Onam shoppers features blooms from far and wide on Kerala cotton saris. Nivethitha, a resident of Kochi, says, “Apart from flowers such as hibiscus, sunflowers, gulmohur and boungainvillea, I have used cherry blossoms and orchids to adorn my saris under the brand name of Turmerik. Block-printed flowers are hand-painted to bring in the finer details.”

Shanghupushpam is one of the Kreala-themed motifs of Sreejan Jeevan’s curated collection for Onam

Shanghupushpam is one of the Kreala-themed motifs of Sreejan Jeevan’s curated collection for Onam
| Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Designer Sreejith Jeevan of Rouka in Kochi laughs when he says that since his Onam edit of 2019, which celebrated flowers, the craze for mural-like paintings on Kerala cotton saris, dhotis, shirts, long skirts et al has been overshadowed by flowers.

“Working with a cluster of handloom weavers in Chendamangalam, my endeavour has been to find out how to overcome this festival-related cyclical buying of Kerala kasavu (the gold and silver border) saris and dhotis and give it a contemporary touch to make it a part of everyday wardrobes of women and men of all ages.”

For this Onam, Sreejith has cream dhotis edged with gold kasavu, adorned with embroidered motifs of traditional lamps, elephants, dragonflies and lotus on the side of the vertical kasavu. In addition to saris with appliqued hibiscus, gulmohur and shankupushpam, he also offers mix-and-match options with duppatas and mundu. “It can be used as traditional mundu-neriyathu set and the neriyathu doubles up as a dupatta too,” he adds. Then there are saris with ruffles in red, black and cream.

He states that the appliqued details in pastels and vibrant colours have flowers and motifs such as banana leaves, stripes, elephants and more, as part of the “#everyinchoffabric initiative. The unfinished edges are part of the design sensibility”.

Light-weight Mangalgiri saris with gold and silver borders are part of Czarina’s collection for Onam

Light-weight Mangalgiri saris with gold and silver borders are part of Czarina’s collection for Onam
| Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

While Kerala saris embellished with embroidery and hand-painted flowers are part of Sheila James’ Onam edit, she has a curated collection of tussars and Mangalgiri silks in off-white with gold-and-silver borders at her boutique, Czarina, in Thiruvananthapuram.

Mini Eappen’s Onam-themed home linen,  Lilza Green, has both hand-painted and embroidered motifs

Mini Eappen’s Onam-themed home linen,  Lilza Green, has both hand-painted and embroidered motifs
| Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

If you are set for the festival, is your home Onam-ready? Cushion covers, table runners, bed linen, pillow covers and more have cream and kasavu (gold and silver) with embroidered flowers, designs and painting as Onam-themed home linen makes a statement in the market.

Treasure Me, an online store started by Manojna Tarin and Thomas Vaidyan, has an exclusive range of bespoke home linen to bring in the Onam cheer into homes. Cotton crochet lace, pin tucks and embroidery are used to enhance the appeal of cream and kasavu to design the home linen.

A gift hamper from Treasure Me is meant for gifting Onakodi

A gift hamper from Treasure Me is meant for gifting Onakodi
| Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

A festive-themed hamper is in great demand says Manojna. “Many people are buying it as gift for friends and relatives. The cream-and- kasavu hamper costs ₹400 and buyers can choose what they want to fill the hamper with. The choices range from clothes and home linen to thorthu and banana wafers.”

She feels the trend for home linen started during the lockdown in 2021 when most people were at home and had time to pay attention to home decor.

Ammu Cherian’s collection, Gold is a Neutral, has curated pillow covers designed by her under her label Amu Cherian LLC

Ammu Cherian’s collection, Gold is a Neutral, has curated pillow covers designed by her under her label Amu Cherian LLC
| Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Sparsh, a boutique store in Thiruvananthapuram, has cushions, table runners and place mats in cream and gold with delicate floral embroidery in gold. Mini Elizabeth Eappen, under her label Lilza Green, has home linen that is hand painted or embroidered with motifs with a connection to the festival and Kerala. The embellishment is done on off-white cottons with kasavu accents.

US-based designer Ammu Cherian has a line of Onam-themed pillow covers under her label Amu Cherian LLC. Working with weavers in Kerala, she says her home linen, again a fusion of cream and kasavu, is meant for Keralites who want to their homes to have a signature of the State.



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