The Magic Art of Rangoli

rangoli kolam designs images diwali ganesh chaturthi onam lakshmi

The art of Rangoli, also known as kolam or alpana or muggu is a deeply rooted tradition in India and are the designs that you will see in front of many houses in India especially in the festive period. Rangolis are colorful decorations created on the floor entrances, courtyards, rooms and houses using materials such as colored rice, dry flour, colored sand or flower petals, it kicks off in true works of multicolored art, which can take several hours of preparation.


The Indians integrate art into their daily lives by drawing rangoli also called Alpana or alpona in Bengal, Mandana in Rajasthan, Kolam in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, Aripan in Bihar, Rangavalli in Maharashtra, Muggu in Andhra Pradesh, Saathiya in Gujarat and Chowkpurana in Uttar Pradesh.

It is traditional art, probably native to the state of Maharashtra, of decorating the plaza in front of the house or in front of temples and generally floors with rice flour, colored powder or white stone with which people make intricate designs on auspicious rituals. Each region of India has its own technique and every family its traditions handed down from mother to daughter, often with extraordinary precision and beautiful results.

The rangoli are made during major holidays such as Diwali, the festival of lights, dedicated to Lakshmi, the one who brings prosperity, Onam and Pongal, festivities connected to the first harvest of the rice and many other Indian festivals, ceremonies and weddings, and as a symbol of good luck and prosperity.

Generally, if compounds are pigment paste, water and lime juice, this is coated directly with the fingers or with rudimentary brushes, while in the case of bulk pigments consists in the ability with the hand the right amount in a homogeneous and precise. The sight of these pigments from the infinite range of colors and often arranged in the form of a cone on market stalls never ceases to fascinate visitors.

With the pigment paste you can also form a colored base on which then the main design will be traced with loose powder. Other variants consist of only Kolam compounds with flower petals, as is the case in our traditional flower festival .

The kolam are usually floral or animals but also complex geometry with symmetrical designs, free drawn line or following a pattern of dots previously outlined. During major holidays women compete against each other, trying to impress the neighbors with new compositions and in the certainty of still please the gods, beauty and cleaning lovers.

The symbols of rangoli have been passed down through the centuries, being a very ancient practice, from each generation to the next, keeping alive the tradition of this unique art form . Most traditional rangoli them you can appreciate, named Kolam in Tamil Nadu, where the art of rangoli is practiced consistently, or Kalam in Kerala, but they are also spread nor the rest of India. Each area is represented according to their own folklore and tradition: they are unique works, and you will hardly find a rangoli identical.

In Tamil Nadu, the mythological legend says that during the Tamil month of Markazi according to the Western calendar in December and January the goddess Andal prayed God Thirumal to marry her. God contented and since then the unmarried girls at the same time pray to God for the husband of their dreams. They rise before dawn and after praying to Thirumal make up these beautiful designs to welcome and please him.

But in the rest of India in Diwali, the festival for which Rangolis are most amazing with paintings are in front of the buildings of all ranks for the festival dedicated to the goddess Lakshmi, who is believed to visit the homes of the faithful and in whose honor thousands of small diya lamps are lit in every corner of the houses and cities. The doors stay open in the evening to welcome the goddess, who will be greeted by the most elaborate and colorful designs, but any celebration is a good opportunity in India for the composition of a beautiful rangoli in front of their homes.

Tradition that accompanied the Indian population over the millennia, has vanished already in the Puranas, rear sacred texts of the Vedas, which deal, among other things, of Indian philosophy. Each region of India has its own technique and every family traditions kept and passed on from mother to daughter, since it is an art to which he devoted only women, often with extraordinary precision and beauty results.

There is a legend that tells of the birth of rangoli. There was a very sad priest for his son's death. Everyone began to pray Brahma, one of the aspects of God, as well as, in some traditions, the supreme principle of the universe to do something to alleviate the immense pain. Moved, he asked God that he was painting the image of the priest's son to the ground and when finished, Brahma gave birth to the drawing. From this miracle began the tradition of rangoli in India.

The rangoli belong to popular art, associated with easily available and simple elements, the most important of which is the utsav dharmita, powder of dried leaves. Normally the main ingredients used to make the rangoli are in fact very common: rice powder, dry powder made ​​from colorful leaves, charcoal, sawdust, etc.

The base material is usually dry: herbs and spices naturally colored as the sindoor (cinnabar) for the vermilion red and the 'haldi (turmeric) for yellow, can be added for color, as well as sand, flowers and petals (as in If rangoli with flowers). The chemical colors, of course, are a modern variant, as well as the marble dust. The main symbols used in rangoli are the lotus flower, the fruit of the mango, leaves, fish, different kinds of birds like parrots, swans and peacocks, human figures. But let's see how to make a rangoli!

Traditionally, the Rangoli is made ​​on a square grid in North India and on a hexagonal grid in South India, while for the holidays Onam and Pongal (celebration of the first rice cut) the rangoli are typically circular. The material used is different depending on the region: in North India, the color is based on colored chalk (chirodi), while in the south of colored rice powder, except for Onam rangoli, which are usually with a floral base.

The drawings can be realized in two ways: with dry material, such as colored powders, reduced colored dry leaves very fine, or with moist material, such as powders with the addition of water, fresh flowers etc. The first step is to reproduce the chosen design on the ground, generally using white powder. There are several methods, one of the most used it is the technique of dots, or you draw a hatched grid and subsequently begin to unite the various ends, creating the base of rangoli which should then be filled with colors.

Due to migration and the combination of people and traditions, many styles of rangoli are mixed, especially among young people there is desire to experiment with materials, such as sawdust to create rangoli floating or the use of grains for color, a succession of pictorial evolutions but always pleasant and rich effect.

A very recent trend involves the use of colored concrete and marble powder: is a rather precise method and effect, but requires a certain training and not little experience. Using this technique, you can create wonderful portraits and rangoli expertly detailed and famous are those of the competition at the Rose Festival in Chandigarh, with pieces of marble and stone.



Often rangoli most elaborate and spectacular are made ​​on occasions like Diwali, a major Hindu religious celebrations stretching over five days, usually between October and November, according to the Vedic calendar. Diwali is also known as the festival of lights and in fact, it is characterized by oil and luminary lamps that symbolize the victory of light over darkness, of good over evil and the striking lights are turned on at night in Indian homes.

The spiritual significance of this celebration is to be aware of their inner light and lay many small lights on a colorful rangoli means that all things in the world are united with each other and wherever there will be light and color there will be peace, with the rangoli being a message of love.

rangoli is a tradition very old, usually passed down from mother to daughter. They are an art that makes use of colors a time cereal flours, turmeric and natural pigments, while today we use synthetic powders to attract good luck and welcome the many guests during the party who will cross the threshold of the house, first of all the goddess Lakshmi that brings good luck and prosperity and to which the festival of Diwali is devoted.

In an ancient treatise on painting, titled Chitra Lakshana, it states that rangoli was the earliest form of pictorial art in the earth, once the son of an important priest died prematurely, leaving the king and all the kingdom into turmoil.

United in desperation the king and his subjects intensively prayed to the god Brahma, the creator of the universe, so to give life to the boy. Brahma was moved and asked the king to draw the image on the floor of the deceased, and breath life into picture made ​​of colored powders and the boy returned to live for the happiness of the kingdom. He was born the first rangoli design.

The classic rangoli also called kolam, athapoo, muggu, mandana are intricate geometric patterns made ​​by drawing continuous lines through a grid of dots previously created usually an odd number of dots. The dots symbolize the hardships of life that we face during the journey of life; It believes the negativity in the air, and evil spirits remain trapped in the intricate geometric line and are unable to enter the house. Each broken line makes him away spirits less effective.

A favorite Diwali rangoli are those created using different colored powders . After outlining the contours of the skilled Indian hands drop a thread color to fill the shapes, creating shades and intense color effects. Aesthetic perfection is reached by adding the center or the edges of clay candles, which with their flames trembling enhance the beauty of rangoli.

At one time, and still today in many homes of South India, it is mostly used rice flour on floors. In addition to being a ritual decoration, rangoli thus became a banquet for birds, insects and small creatures inhabitants of the earth and, like us according Hindus, they belong to the great family that is the world.
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