Rangoli is the art of drawing patterns and designs on the floor and walls using several mediums like rice flour or special powder made from white rock etc.
Rangoli is a symbolic way to welcome Goddess Lakshmi into the household. It is also believed that evil spirits cannot cross the rangoli and enter the house.
Rangoli is known with different names in different states of the country. In Orissa, the traditional art of drawing patterns and designs on the floor and walls is known as Chita or Jhoti. It is an established practice to draw the designs in rural areas. Jhoti is done using semi liquid pase made from rice or pithau. Fingers are used to draw the patterns.
Some of the common designs are the lotus, intricate flower designs, foot marks of different deities etc.
The main purpose of drawing a chita or jhoti is not just decorating the house but also to create a relationship between the material and the mystical. Thus the rangoli is meaningful and symbolic.
All through the year, various rituals are performed in the village for the fulfillment of desires. For each occasion a special pattern or design is drawn on the wall or the floor. As an example, during Lakshmi Pooja, symbolically rice sheaves or a stack of paddy is drawn on the floor or wall.
Rural households in Orissa are like living canvasses to create the traditional jhotis which comprise of intricate line art. Though modernization is seen in every field, the agrarian tradition still continues in the homes of rural Orissa. Jhoti is meant to impress Goddess Lakshmi who will shower her blessings on her devotees.
Jhotis are drawn during special occasions like Kaartika, Basanti, Jhulana, Dhanalakshmi Puja, Gaja Lakshmi Puja, Manabashaa Gurubaara etc. Along with special traditional cuisines, special jhotis transform the festivals into great occasions of merriment.
Margashira month, which comes usually between November and December is considered an auspicious month by the devotees of Goddess Lakshmi. Women decorate the entrance of the homes with aesthetically designed patterns of jhoti. During Thursdays in this month, special designs are created for welcoming Goddess Lakshmi. The kharif crop which is produced during this month is worshipped as Goddess Lakshmi.
Women draw rangoli in competition to each other creating exquisite symmetrical designs of conch shell, lotus flower, peacocks, fish, elephant, the kumbh and other geometrical and floral designs. The holy feet of Goddess Lakshmi and other circular patterns are etched on the floor and it is a feast for the eyes to look at these designs.
The tradition of rangoli is kept alive and it is passed on to the daughters from mothers. This art will live along with Indian tradition and leaves a mark on the artistic map of our country.