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Rangoli: the art of colours

Posted by
on November 06, 2015 at 05:58 PM

One of the most fascinating folk art-forms, Rangoli is integral to the festivities of Diwali! Traditionally supposed to be a symbolic welcome to Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth, who is worshipped during Diwali, it has evolved over the years, into numerous variants.  But large or small, made of coloured sand or flowers, outside the door or inside the puja room – the rangoli adds a special hue to the festival of lights!

© Courtesy of Cover Pic: Rangvalli Parivar, Other pics: Internet Sources

Art is a manifestation of divinity. There is an artist lying deep inside each one of us; it’s simply a matter of whether we discover it or it discovers us. It is primal human nature to ‘create’ and ‘innovate’, to ‘adorn’ and ‘embellish’. As with all inventions, some emerged out of a ‘need’ while others were mere accidental stumble-upons.

'Rangoli' is a Sanskrit word, which is said to have its roots in the words “rang” meaning colours and “aavalli” meaning row – which together means ‘creepers of colours’.  With origins in Maharashtra, the art of rangoli is practiced all over the country and is known by different names in different regions such as Rangoli in Maharashtra, Alpana (in Bengal), and Kolam (in South India). 

The history of the wondrous tradition of the rangoli, the folk art in which patterns are created on the floor, usually outside the main door or in courtyards, is most interesting. Followed with slight variants in different states of India during Diwali, Onam, Pongal and other festivals, the patterns were traditionally made with rice paste, dry flour, coloured rice, red brick powder and flower petals. Vermilion powder (sindoor) and turmeric (haldi) and other natural substances were used to add colour. Then coloured sand started to be used, and it is this variant that has become widely popular. 

Rangoli styles vary from region to region, as they reflect the beliefs and traditions and culture of the locals. The purpose of rangoli is decoration, and depictions usually include simple geometric shapes, deity impressions, nature-inspired shapes like leaves and petals or traditional motifs; as appropriate for the occasion of the celebration.The style and subject of a rangoli depend on the artist, but the lines are always drawn with a single, fluid finger movement. Commonly used symbols include Om, swastika, mangal kalash, chakra, a lighted diya, trident, "shree", and lotus. 

Making a rangoli can be assisted by a pattern of dots, which are joined to form a geometrical pattern, and then the shapes within are filled with colors. That process would be a fond childhood memory for many of us; when the holed templates would be inspected for deciding the rangoli that would adorn our thresholds!

But if preserving traditions is a mantle donned by few, in this fast-paced life, many of us look for instant solutions. In response to this demand – we now even have peel and stick rangoli stickers!!!

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