Rangoli – An Ancient Indian tradition

Patterns or designs made on the floor and walls of houses or temples are known as rangolis. Rangoli is a unique folk art form which is exclusive only to India. Since times immemorial, rangoli is associated with auspicious occasions. Rangoli is drawn in front of Hindu deities to invoke their blessings.

In South India, every morning the front space in front of the house is cleaned with water and later rangoli is drawn with dry rice powder, white powder made from a special rock or a thick paste of rice flour.

Filling the rangolis with natural colours is also done on special occasions like festivals and marriages. Nowadays synthetic colours are also used for adding colour to the rangoli.  Rangoli can be called as an artistic celebration of colours.

If we look at a rangoli from a different point of view, it can be said that the white colour represents the sun light which comprises of all seven colours. The vibrant colours of nature are depicted through the various colours used in a rangoli. Most of the rangolis are used to maintain symmetry in a design. Usually the left side is a replica of the right side. It can be compared to the yin and yang symbols of energy.

In all cultures worldwide symmetric designs are depicted as signs of luck, prosperity and growth.

Rangolis are made with curved loop designs, round floral designs and many other patterns. These designs are inspired by different shapes of flowers, nature, Indian deities etc. In Indian temples, large rangolis are drawn to decorate the walls and the floors.

When you enter a home where a rangoli is drawn, you will be attracted by the colours which bring tranquility to you. The colours originally used in rangolis were the same ones which are used in prayers. Turmeric and vermillion are the natural colours which are used in rangolis and also during poojas. These colours remind you of sacred places like temples.

As an example to show that designs and patterns draw one’s attention, in Amazon jungles there is a tribe who draw art on the ground similar to that of a rangoli. They pray and sit near the designs for half a day. It is observed that animals in the forest get drawn towards these designs and the tribals hunt them and use as their food. Through the ritual of art, these tribals make animals to come to them instead of running behind them.

Ancients in India believed that rangolis create certain energy which prohibits evil forces from entering the house. As the rangolis are made with rice flour, they attract ants and other small insects. In a way it is like offering food to other creatures in nature.


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