Rangolis: The Visual Manifestations of Indian Tradition

Rangoli has always enjoyed a prime place in the Indian tradition and have become an integral part of several important celebrations and festivals. The women folk in every household take immense delight in decorating the front yard of the house with highly colorful rangolis especially during festivals. Usually drawn on the floor with white rangoli powder or rice powder and later embellished in a variety of ways with the use of colors and flowers, rangolis project a phenomenal kind of variety across the nation. Apart from these design-based artistic work, freehand rangoli is also famous in many areas. Several major festivals of the country are deemed complete only with the colorful display of rangolis.

During Diwali (festival of lights), colorful rangolis are made and oil lamps are arranged on them in different patterns throughout the country. In Tamilnadu, the festival of Karthigai Deepam (the famous lamp lighting festival in the month of Karthika) uses an elaborated display of rangolis for arranging the lamps during the evenings.

Dussera is perhaps the occasion of colors. The practice of organizing Kolu (hierarchical arrangement of dolls and idols at homes) is one occasion where rangolis are used elaborately. Celebrated over ten days, women draw different rangolis on every new day of Dussera before the front yard of the homes as well as in front of the idol display.

The festival of Sankranti or Pongal is a major event in which the elaborate use of rangolis is noted. In Tamilnadu, Pongal is celebrated over four days to honor sun god and farm animals. This is a sort of thanksgiving occasion for all that support the agricultural life. On all the four days, different rangolis are drawn in the frontages. It is a rare and astonishing sight to see the Tamilnadu streets with the rangolis covering the whole streets and competing with those of the other households in terms of size, skilful patterns and colors. Pumpkin flowers and some items symbolic of auspiciousness are also arranged at the center of these rangolis.

Vishu or Keralite New Year makes the predominant use of rangolis. The kind of rangolis used during Vishu is an altogether different one with the elaborate use of colorful flowers and petals arranged on the designs drawn on the floor.

The intricate art involved in the drawing of rangolis and the baffling variety found in rangolis across the nation and across different festivals is indeed a feast to the eyes and a matter of involved research into the annals of this incredible cultural tradition.

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