Rangoli is a traditional Indian art form dating back several centuries;
in fact, it is said that it can be traced back as far as the Indus valley
Civilisation. The word "rangoli" derives from Sanskrit, and
it means "the expression of artistic vision through the joyful use
of colour" or "design in colour." It is done at the entrance
of households or a temple (mandirs) on auspicious occasions, especially
during the festival of light called Diwali, and is hence a welcoming gesture.
It also gives that little extra touch of class and beauty. The colourful
patterns on the doorsteps are not just for decorative purposes; they embody
a deep religious spirit too. They are often dedicated to various deities,
for example, Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity, or Ganesha
the God of good beginnings. Mainly women practise these decorations and
sacred patterns. It is an art form that is passed down from generation
to generation, from mother to daughter.
Colours and Materials
Designs are set out to occupy a square, rectangle or circle to show marked
protection from all sides. In the olden days, rangolis were made with
rice flour and grains. The main idea behind this was to feed the ants,
birds and animals as one's good deed of the day. Other natural colours
were also used - turmeric for golden yellow, red and black of earth, blue
of indigo and crushed leaves for green. Many other mediums such as fresh
flower petals, rice grains and pulses can also be used. Nowadays, powder
colours are most commonly used as can be seen in the rangoli displayed
here at the British Museum. Various bright colours are employed in this
art. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but they are also fundamentally
therapeutic and they have many meanings behind them too. The significance
of colours used is explained below:
¨ WHITE purity, coolness and safety. It is often used to make fine
strength and energy.
¨ YELLOW richness.
¨ GREEN harmony and balance, nature.
vastness and happiness, peace
¨ ORANGE sacrifice.
requires much practice - a small amount of coloured powder is taken between
the forefinger and thumb, and then it is gently released to form fine
lines, which gradually make up the entire pattern.
Painting in India
Floor painting varies in style and meaning from region to region, and
is recognised by different names throughout the states of India:
+ ORISSA - Thunti
+ SOUTH OF INDIA - Kolam
+ MAHARASHTRA -Rangoli
+ GUJARAT - Sathio
+ BIHAR - Aripan
+ RAJASTHAN - Mandana
In some parts
of India, it is a daily ritual for the ladies of the house to make "kolam"
and "mandana" in the courtyard. They sprinkle fresh cow dung
on the recently swept ground and execute the designs with white rice powder.
As well as inaugurating the day, it is also seen as an offering to the
earth we live on.
most rangoli patterns are geometrical. The designs are drawn with dots
on a graph, which are then linked with flowing lines to form a pattern.
The main structure of the rangoli is in the shape of a square. There are
many other geometrical forms such as circles and triangles contained within
the square, hence the connection to maths. Everything has a shape, and
maths of shape is called geometry. Circles, rectangles, squares, triangles,
octagons, hexagons and so on are all geometric shapes.
of the rangoli lies in the fact that it cannot be preserved for long periods
of time as there is no fixed base. It is an art to be enjoyed and appreciated
for the moment until it is finally swept away to create a new space. In
this way, this special ornamental art has its own charm and it continues
to be a unique source of beauty as it is ever evolving and inspirational,
thus allowing one's imagination to flow incessantly.