or Kolam as it is popularly called here in Tamilnadu, is one
of the city's best surviving links with a treasured cultural heritage.
Rangoli is a Hindu folk art; more precisely a floor art. It traces
it obscure origins to the Puranas (Works on Hindu Mythology).
Simply put, Rangoli means a row of colours. The tradition of
Rangoli originated in Maharastra and slowly disseminated to other
parts of India.
Rangoli consists of geometrical and symmetrical shapes and designs.
The most preferred motifs are those inspired by nature. Birds, animals,
flowers, gods and goddesses. Rangoli designs are usually plain,
though on festive occasions it is also coloured. For a long time
natural dyes were used as colouring agents, later these were replaced
with chemical dyes. Rangoli is usually drawn with chalk and dry
rice powder, although most often a fine gravel powder is used as
a cheap and easy substitute for the rice powder.
Rangoli is not confined to homes in Tamilnadu anymore. Almost all
inaugural functions use this floor art as a welcome message.Wedding
halls are decorated with these intricate designs that are sometimes
adorned with flowers.
as an art, is in tune with the times. With marbles, mosaics, granite
slabs and ceramic tiles replacing mud floors, innovative and easy
ways of drawing Rangoli have come in. Hollow tin and wooden rollers
are stuffed with powder and dragged across the floor. Waterproof
Rangoli stickers are available in the market, which can adhere to
smooth surfaces. Today, even a novice can decorate the floor with
Rangoli. Probably next in line might be computer-simulated designs.
For those willing to learn Rangoli there are a lot of books in the
market for this purpose.
Today, Rangoli also makes a fashion statement. Intricate Rangoli
patterns are extensively used in desigining ethnic dresses and ethnic
ware. The ceramic industry also utilises these designs for their
But what makes Rangoli survive through the ages? Perhaps it is
the universal appeal of this folk art. Rangoli cuts across social
barriers and as an art that adapts itself easily to changing times.
It is this flexibility in expression, which makes it a blend of
the tradition and the modern.
| Drawing intricate Rangoli designs helps improve
| Saivaites and Vaishnavites have
different border designs. Saivaites prefer the horizontal lines,
while Vaishnavites have a combination of horizontal lines with
curves in between.
| Rice powder was traditionally used for Rangoli
to prevent ants from entering the house.
| A mixture of cow dung and water was splashed
on the mud floor before drawing Rangoli. This acted as an insecticide
and also helped prevent dust from getting blown into the house.
| Special Rangolis are drawn on important occasions-
Navagraha Kolam, Hridaya Kamal, Aishwarya Kolam. Special
lamps are used for Diwali (Festival of Lights) and the
Sun Chariot for Pongal (Harvest Festival).
| Tamilians have an exclusive month for this
art. Yes! The Marghazi (December and January) is dedicated
to this art.
| Rangoli for a long time was a popular medium
for preserving social memory.