An Introduction to Rangoli
The chirping of the birds woke me up and I quickly slithered off the bed and ran towards the front door and out into the courtyard. It was dawn, and the first rays of the sun were just managing to pierce the darkness. My mother squatted before the front door, humming a morning Mantra (Sanskrit Hymn) and drawing an intricate geometrical design using white rice flour. I gazed in awe as she skillfully let the powder drop through her fingers as her hand moved deftly and, Lo and behold, in a few minutes, a beautiful design graced the floor.
I must have been barely three years old and this was how, like many other Indians, I grew up, admiring this traditional and ancient art of India, which is known as Rangoli. This art has been passed from one generation to another and is a living and pulsating art form in millions of homes in India. The earliest mention of this art form is found in Indian Mythological works like the Ramayana.
The significance and importance of Rangoli
Rangoli is an art form that primarily consists of the drawing of intricate, geometric designs and religious motifs. The material used for the drawing range from rice flour, colored rice grains, charcoal, red soil and flowers of different colors. It is remarkable that this art requires materials that are freely available in all households irrespective of their material status.
The Rangoli motifs are primarily associated with auspiciousness and spirituality. One can find these adorning the courtyards of most houses in the South of India every morning. Rangoli motifs also adorn the place or room specifically designated for religious rites and worship that take place in Hindu homes. Festivals are another occasion when bright and colorful Rangolis beckon one to Indian homes. The tradition and variety of Rangoli is as rich as the diversity of India, and across the country various styles of Rangoli to mark different occasions can be found. But the underlying philosophy behind this colorful art form remains the same; they are believed to be the harbingers of peace, prosperity and well being by generating a positive energy.
Diwali, the dazzling festival of lights would never be complete without the presence of bright and multi-hued Rangoli designs that grace the courtyards of homes across the length and breadth of India. Rangoli for Diwali captures the spirit of the festival with all its joy and celebration. The motifs generally used during Diwali include Diyas (Lamps), Lotus, Lakshmi-The Goddess of Wealth and the popular Hindu God, Lord Ganesh.
Another important and beautiful variation of Rangoli is to be found in the southern states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, in the form of Pookalam, an art form that makes use of multi colored flowers to come up with a floral Rangoli. During the ten days of the festival of Onam, these beautiful designs grace each and every house.
Today stencils and stickers are available to make it that much easier to make Rangoli drawings, but the skill and spirit of the original way of drawing Rangoli patterns can never be replaced.