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Spreading the colours of prosperity

Rangoli is an expression of colourful emotions that is so inherently Indian. Diwali is a festival that holds Rangoli at the very forefront of celebrations. Nitin Pahuja explains...

art and culture Updated: Oct 16, 2009 16:39 IST
Nitin Pahuja

Rangoli is an expression of colourful emotions that is so inherently Indian. Diwali is a festival that holds Rangoli at the very forefront of celebrations. Nitin Pahuja explains...

Its Diwali time and everyone is busy ensuring that their house is at its very best. Keeping up with the ancient tradition of decorating the home for welcoming Goddess Lakshmi, everyone is on a shopping and embellishment spree. While everything from the getting your house furnished to repainting it has been settled and done, Rangoli is something that can give that final touch to that beautiful house.

Diwali is one day where almost everyone makes a Rangoli. Placed at the entrance of the house it is a wonderful combination of bright colours designed in several majestic patterns as a sign of welcome and respect for the guests and especially Goddess Lakshmi. Typically Rangoli is always drawn at the early sunrise by the leading lady or the mother of the house. In earlier times, Rangoli’s were drawn as the first thing after taking bath, however over a period of time it is now done by any young lady at home and that too at a time that is comfortable to them. Earlier ladies used to sing sacred mantras and used to believe that this will guard them from evil forces but that custom is hardly visible these days in spite of its great spiritual significance.

A Rangoli is just not about decoration and it is believed that a house with Rangoli, is full of prosperity and tranquillity because it has the colours that represent positive energy. Turmeric and kumkum which are typically used in Rangoli drawings bring tranquillity and optimism to the viewer as these are the colours that are so often used in temples that as per tradition are the centres of positive thought and expression.

The shape of the Rangoli is also very important and it is greatly emphasised that it is symmetrical, balanced and round. The motifs in traditional Rangoli are usually taken from Nature - peacocks, swans, mango, flowers and creepers etc. The colours traditionally were derived from natural dyes - from barks of trees, leaves, indigo, etc. However, today you have the option of synthetic dyes that can be used to glorify bright colours. The designs are symbolic and common to the entire country, and can include geometrical patterns, with lines, dots, squares, circles, triangles; the swastika, lotus, trident, fish, conch shell, footprints (supposed to be of goddess Lakshmi), creepers, leaves, trees, flowers, animals and anthropomorphic figures. These motifs often are modified to fit in with the local images and rhythms. One important point is that the entire pattern must be an unbroken line, with no gaps to be left anywhere for evil spirits to enter.

Ultimately your Rangoli is a painted prayer. You are its creator and the provider of its sacred space. Let the design within you surface and exist because it is ultimately your very expression for the almighty.

Happy Diwali!