Rangoli means an array of colours in Sanskrit. India is a tradition rich country wherein several traditional practices are passed on from generation to generation. Throughout India, in all the states, the practice of drawing rangoli is in vogue. The art of drawing designs and patterns on the floor, courtyards, walls and temples with rice flour, special rock powder and chirodi is known as rangoli. Drawing rangoli is mandatory before the commencement of any religious and auspicious occasion in India.
It is known with different names in different states. Rangoli is known as alpana or alpona in the state of West Bengal. Women of the household draw beautiful patterns and designs during festive seasons. Through rangoli designs women express their artistic talent inherent in them. It is one of the best ways to exhibit their skill.
Designs like floral rangoli, geometric rangoli, bird rangoli, animal rangoli, ritual sign rangoli are popular which are drawn during festivals like Durga Pooja and Diwali.
Durga pooja is celebrated for nine days and each day a unique pattern is drawn before the idol of Goddess Durga. During Diwali symbolic patterns of lamps and lights are drawn and oil lamps are lighted and decorated on the rangolis. These oil lamps add elegance to the festivals.
Rangolis drawn during festivals are adorned by various colours as well. Bright colour hues like red, blue, green and purple bring out the festive mood. Originally natural dyes and natural ingredients like vermillion and turmeric were used for the decoration. But nowadays, synthetic colours are also used along with the natural colours.
There are other materials which are also used for adorning the rangoli. Cereals and pulses are among them for decorating the rangoli patterns. It gives a 3 D effect to the design. Another option is, colours are mixed with rock salt or fine sand and dried. The resultant mixture produces beautiful effect on the rangoli. The colour is filled up in the rangoli using the gap between the thumb and fore finger when both are pinched together. It requires skill to fill in the colour this way.
Nowadays for those enthusiasts who do not have the skill to draw rangoli, there are stencils and stickers available in the market. Anyone can draw a rangoli and satisfy their artistic urge.
In some temples, rangoli patterns are permanently painted on the floor with oil paints. They look attractive and impress the devotees.
Whatever may be the patterns of rangoli, the underlying principle and belief are the same throughout the country. It is a visual treat to look at various rangoli designs which adorn homes and temples during festive season. Any festival is incomplete without a rangoli in India.