An Exquisite Art

Rangoli literally means an array of colours in Sanskrit. India tradition is bestowed with unique art forms. The art of drawing patterns and designs on the floor, walls, courtyards and temples is known as rangoli. This exquisite art form is usually patronized by women of the household. Rangoli is in vogue for the past hundreds of years. It is passed on from generation to generation from mothers to daughters.

The origin of rangoli is traced back to a legend in ‘Chitra Lakshana, one of the early treatises on Indian painting, a high priest’s son in a kingdom dies. Lord Brahma asks the king to paint the image of the boy so that he could put life into it. This is how the first painting was done.

There are different patterns and designs of rangolis. These designs are exclusive for a region. In northern India, rangoli is drawn by free hand directly on the floor or wall. But in Southern India, rangoli designs are usually made with the help of dots. A grid of dots is drawn and later these dots are joined which result in the formation of unique patterns and designs.

Swastika, lotus, sacred animals, images of nature are the few objects which are used in drawing rangoli patterns. The colours traditionally used were made from natural dyes like leaves, barks of trees, indigo etc.

Dry powders like turmeric, vermillion, and charcoal dust were used to colour the rangoli patterns. Nowadays synthetic colours are also used for brightening the rangoli. For a flat appearance, materials like rice flour, turmeric and vermillion are used. To show a 3 D effect cereals and pulses are also used. They are coloured with natural dyes for a special effect. Beads, rock salt mixed with different colours are also used for filling the design with vibrant colours.

For better colouring effect, plain colours are mixed with fine sand. They are mixed with water and allowed to dry. Later the mixture is used for filling up the designs. It gives a uniform effect to the design. Sprinkling the colour powder with hand is a laborious task.

Rangoli is used as a diverse visual art forms as well. Some rangoli designs look like impressive paintings.

If you are not artistically inclined but still want to decorate your house with rangoli designs, you need not worry. Nowadays several stickers, stencils of designs and patterns are available in the market. They can be bought and used to beautify the house. Tin rollers can be filled with rangoli powder and rolled on the floor to get intricate designs.

Rangoli designs reflect aesthetics and regional beliefs. This wonderful art of floor and wall painting has survived all the influences and has retained its essence.

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