The term ‘Rangoli’ is derived from the terms ‘Rang’ and ‘Aavalli’ that means ‘colors’ and ‘row of colors’ respectively. As the name suggests, it is an art performed with beautiful and vibrant mixed of colors. It is a decorative piece of painting that uses finely ground white powder and blend of colors to enlighten the entrances of many Indian houses.
The original traces of rangoli are found in a legend recorded in the Chitralakshana that is the earliest Indian thesis on painting. It is believed ages ago, Lord Brahma infused life into a painting of a boy. That painting was created by the King of that time who lost his son. He was asked by Lord Brahma to draw a painting of his son so that the Lord can give a new life to him. That is considered to be the first Indian painting.
When it comes to rangoli, it is completely different from what we know as ‘painting’. Though it is one of the forms but not the one we draw on canvas with fabric colors or oil paints. It a beautiful form pained on floors that uses powder colors to give art a magical beauty and charm.
There are many different types of rangoli. The traditional type is the one with 16-dots or 32-dots where lines are interconnected from various dots to form a decorative piece. The drawn piece is outlined by white dusty powder and the interior of the design is beautifully filled with different colors depending on the design or pattern. Another form is the free-hand design that is much popular in the modern era. This form does not require any dot or lines to create a rangoli. Any design or drawing is simply drawn on the floor free-handed and then filled with the desired colors.
The motifs or designs used for Rangoli are mostly taken from the natural surroundings like that of a peacock, swans, creepers, animals, flowers, and footprints of God or Goddess or holy symbols like swastik. Some even go for geometrical patterns like square, circles, and triangle.
The range of vibrant colors filled in these patterns and designs makes them look more beautiful and attractive. Though in the early days, colors were drawn from barks of trees and leaves but in the present time many synthetic forms are available. People today, even use home spices and condiments like red chili powder, turmeric powder, salt, and pulses to decorate rangoli painting.
In the olden days, rangoli was restricted to auspicious occasions and festivals like Diwali. It is believed that on Diwali, every entrance of every house is decorated with charming rangoli painting to welcome Goddess Lakshmi. Traditionally, it is also believed that there must be no unbroken line of empty spaces within the rangoli pattern. These empty spaces and unbroken lines welcome ill spirit.
Nowadays, this beautiful art needs no occasion. It has now become a medium to welcome guests, spreading joy and pleasure everywhere. Through this beautiful Indian art form, people express their gratitude and hospitality to all the guests irrespective of occasions and festivals.
Rangoli at my home this year, made by me and my sister