Girls making rangoli in Andrah Pradesh. Photographer: Santosh Korthiwada.
Rangoli or Rangavalli, literally meaning a creeper drawn with colors, is an ancient decorative art practiced by women and girls in India. Rangoli is basically designs drawn with one or many colors, drawn on the floor in a front yard, a courtyard or passage. The design ranges from quite simple to very intricate. Though it has its origin in rural settings, today even the most urbane have not forgotten this art.
Rangoli is also considered a form of worship as it has very symbolic meanings. Most of the motifs used are inspired from Indian mythology. Some of the most popular are the feet of Goddess Lakshmi- deity of wealth and prosperity, paisley- a symbol of fertility and prosperity, the planets representing the days of the week, also various geometrical patterns, etc. Some of the motifs are derived from folklore as well. It is believed that Rangoli can also be used as a protection against evil spirits or the evil eye and positively it can invoke the benedictions of gods and goddesses.
Traditionally, Rangoli is made of rice paste or slurry. Now, during the festive season, you can purchase colors of various shades in their powder form. Rangoli is commonly made outside the main door of one's house during Diwali, the festival of lights, which is celebrated in the month of October or November. However, in the Bengal and southern parts of India, making Rangoli or Kolam with rice paste or dry rice powder is an everyday practice. Rangoli in Bengal is called Alpana.
To learn more about making your own Rangoli, check out Activity Village.
- Shruti Gautam
Girl Museum, Inc.