In India, since ancient times, there are many rituals designed to bring peace and harmony into the house. One of these rituals, which serves to scare away evil spirits, is drawing rangoli on the floor near the main entrance to the house. Rangoli is a folk art also known as kolam or Muggu. Rangoli art is more than just art, it is a traditional prayer, a certain mystery and timid process of creating colorful and vibrant ornamental drawings of flower petals, colored rice and rice flour. Rangoli is usually done during the Indian festivals of Diwali, Onam, Pongal and others. They are intended to refer to the sacred places of welcoming Hindu deities. Patterns of ancient symbols transmitted over the centuries from generation to generation, keeping the art form and tradition.
Such practices followed in different Indian states in Tamil Nadu – there is a similar tradition kolam; Mandana in Rajasthan; Chaookpurna in Chhattisgarh; Alpay in West Bengal; Aripana in Bihar; Pujala Chowk in Uttar Pradesh; Muggu in Andhra Pradesh and others.
Rangoli or Alpon (picture prayer) – drawing ornament on the exterior walls of the house – especially around the front door – and thoroughly cleared compacted area in front of the house. Different Indian peoples have different types of these drawings. Many have their roots in ancient times, in the historical era, when they were ascribed magical significance and were applied on the ground near the altar and places of sacrifice. You can trace a direct connection with some of these designs on seals and vessels found during excavations in the valley of the Indus.
In the early days, when men were still sleeping, women, scooped up a handful of paint (usually a powder), passed the narrow streams flowing between the fingers, with elusive movements of wrists accurately and quickly decorated the ground floor with a subtle and complex pattern. Sometimes it’s monochrome, but often two or three-color, and requires a huge skill to just pinch fingers, by closing where necessary, a trickle of paint.
Now in the cities began to sell hollow tubes with holes arranged in a certain order. Sellers pour into them toner and roll on the asphalt. Lace patterns are obtained, but they all have the character of the bands, while these traditional Alpon consists of a complex weave of lines in a square, circle, star or any other circuit. Similar equipment used the Tibetan monks to create sand mandala.
The art of drawing rangoli – extremely laborious and time-consuming work. It should start with a framework, which is usually made of sand, marble dust, sawdust, and chopped bricks. Then carefully back-filled patterns, mostly rice flour and colored chalk, and top decorated with granules, beads or flowers. It is important that the figure had no broken lines not to let evil spirits in.
Subject and rangoli patterns vary: celestial symbols – the sun, moon, stars, natural elements – flowers (especially popular lotus), trees, birds, animals, fish, also human figures and geometric elements – circles and half circles, triangles, squares and rectangles.
Rangoli is derived from combining two words in Hindi – “rang” that means “color” and “Avola”, which means “number.” One of the legends about the origin of rangoli says that when the son of the chief priest died, the god Brahma appeared before crying and asked the priest to draw the image of the son, to breathe life into him again. That was the first image of rangoli.