Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Rangoli

The best way to attract the Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, is with a colourful rangoli in your courtyard

The origin of rangoli or floor painting is traced to a legend recorded in Chitralakshana-the earliest Indian treatise on painting. When the son of a high priest died, Lord Brahma, asked the king of the high priest to paint the likeness of the boy on the floor so that he may breathe life into him again. This is how the first floor painting is said to have been created.

The Chola rulers made extensive use of floor paintings, now known by different names in different parts of the country; alpana in Bengal, aripana in Bihar, madana in Rajasthan, rangoli in Gujarat and Maharashtra, chowkpurana in Uttar Pradesh and kolam in the south.

The term rangoli is derived from rang (colour) oli or avalli (coloured rows)and is practiced throughout India. Rangoli as it is called is a speciality of Western India (Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan) and is called floor art in Eastern Indian states (Bengal, Orissa, etc).

In a traditional household, the lady of the house starts her daily chores and routine after a bath and drawing of rangoli in front of the pooja (prayer) room and the tulsi (ocimum sanctum)plant. The motifs in rangoli are usually taken from nature and the colours which were traditionally derived from natural dyes. However, synthetic dyes in powder form are used today with a wide range of bright colours. These materials give the rangoli a very flat appearance, but a 3-D effect can be given with the help of whole flowers, pulses, grains and beads.

Diwali rangoli

Gods have always loved things of beauty and the best way to attract the Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, is with a colourful rangoli in your courtyard. During Diwali specific designs are meant and made for specific days . Some people prefer to stick to one design throughout the five-day festive period. The designs that are made are symbolic and follow geometrical patterns- lines, dots, squares, circles, triangles. Symbols such as swastika, lotus, trident, fish, conch-shell, foot-prints represents goddess Lakshmi and figures of other deities, chariots, temples, motifs of plants, flowers, animals such as cows, elephants, horses, and birds like eagles and swans, etc are also made. The most important part of this exercise -there must be no broken line, or gaps in the rangoli design for evil spirits to enter.

To make a rangoli

Draw the entire pattern with a chalk or rice powder and fill in with: coriander seeds, sesame seeds, cereals, pulses or other natural colouring agents. A combination of masoor dal (orange) with rice (white), moong (green), coriander seeds (yellowish green), tur dal (yellow) and wheat will give you six basic colours to play around with.

You can also mix the rangoli colours with crystal salt as it is easy to fill in blank spaces. This kind of rangoli stays fresh for many days and is ideal for beginners. Using petals of various flowers, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, roses, jasmine and green leaves; various patterns and colours can be created to fill into huge places. Large flowers like such as dahlias can also be used as whole.

The latest trend is to cut thermocol pieces into various shapes and once you have a design in mind, paint them with watercolours. Next create designs with real flowers or use pom-pom’s on the edges, golden, silver thread, mirrors, beads and various other such knick-knacks used in embroidery and handicraft. Stick these on with the help of pins creating your own semi-permanent rangoli. You can also stick small diyas (mud lamps) on the centre or towards the edges of the thermocol. This kind of rangoli is perfect for large houses and makes an interesting corner piece too. And you can change the design as and when you wish without a mess.

It is also very easy to draw lines- geometric and symmetrical shapes, drawn with dry rice powder or with rice paste this rangoli is called kolam, in the south. The dry, coarsely ground rice powder is placed between the thumb and forefinger and moved along a predetermined design.

Decorating the floor in different parts of the house is believed to be a good omen. The entrance decoration is a gesture of welcome. So this Diwali, welcome Lakshmi into your house with a eye-catching rangoli!

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