The Art and Cultural Significance of Rangoli Designs
The Art and Cultural Significance of Rangoli Designs

The Art and Cultural Significance of Rangoli Designs

Do You Know? The Art and Cultural Significance of Rangoli Designs in Diwali.

Rangoli is a part and parcel of Indian festivities; a colorful and traditional art makes its way with aplomb and enthusiasm. It is a sign of vibrant display which is more than an art form.

It is normally displayed at the entrances of the home that is seen to bring good luck and years of happiness in our life.

You may like to get the latest Rangoli Design For Diwali 2020

Art and Cultural Significance of Rangoli Designs

If you look at your own life,

Life is like a rangoli,

We can fill its presence with any kind of colours we

Want to make it look beautiful,

Yes it happens sometimes that rangoli

Get spoil like our life but we can again

Recreate in a way we want since colours

Don’t need any kind of design to look beautiful…

It doesn’t need to be perfect all the time,

We can add a twist and our very own creativity to it.

It’s all about exploring and understanding the significance and purpose.

If you grew up in India, you probably must have unleashed your creativity mastery once a year on either Diwali, or any other festive season like Holi, right from simple to more intricate design patterns and geometric shapes with flower petals, rice grains, powered colour, and diyas.

Nowadays, drawing a rangoli is not just limited to women; literally, anyone can explore the creative side of themselves. It’s high time and we need to break the myth and stereotype that Rangoli is generally something that is just limited to females, nowadays the age-old tradition of women making them is coming to an end.

What is the purpose of Rangoli?

Rangoli is an art form and a welcoming gesture used by people in India. It is not just a decoration drawn on the ground or sidewalk in front of a house. Primarily it is drawn to show a sign of coming off the Goddess Lakshmi.

Prayers are offered to Goddess Lakshmi, asking for her blessings in the form of wealth. As such, a rangoli design is created at the entrance of the house, not only to welcome the guests that visit but also the goddess herself.

Generally, this practice is showcased during occasions such as festivals, auspicious observances, marriage celebrations, and other similar milestones and gatherings.

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What is the reason for Drawing Rangoli?

What is the reason for Drawing Rangoli?
What is the reason for Drawing Rangoli?

The origin and history of Rangoli are associated with Pandavas of the Mahabharata. It is believed that Draupadi drew three lines before cooking showing her gratitude to Surya, the sun god.

Rangoli are basically a sign of welcome – part of Atithi Devo Bhava guests are equal to god. It represents auspiciousness, positivity, hope, unity, and happiness within a family.

Rangoli designs can be simple geometric shapes, deity impressions, or flower and petal shapes, they can also be very elaborate designs crafted by numerous people.

The base material is usually powdered quartz, dry or wet powdered rice or dry flour, to which sindooram (vermilion), pasupu (turmeric) and other natural colours can be added. Other materials include red brick powder and even flowers and petals, as in the case of flower rangolis. It’s better to avoid the modern variation of chemical colours. Choose Eco-Friendly colours and ingredients while you draw rangoli design this Diwali.

Diwali is incomplete without its share of colourful rangoli designs. It’s time to ditch the oil paint, toxic-artificial colours. Better use the loose flowers discarded by the florists and come up with mind-blowing designs for the five-festive daily with different colourful variants of flowers. Nothing can beat the flowers natural beauty, Flowers petals and its colours bring real happiness and soothing visual appeal to our eyes.

Nothing can beat the flowers natural beauty, Flowers petals and its colours bring real happiness and soothing visual appeal to our eyes
Nothing can beat the flowers natural beauty, Flowers petals and its colours bring real happiness and soothing visual appeal to our eyes

History of Rangoli

From Sanskrit word “रङ्ग” which means colorRangoli is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘rangavalli’. which is found in Udara Raghava of Sankalya Malla around the middle of the 14th century. He refers to these designs as a collection of unharvested pearls.

Rangoli is known as Muggu in Telugu and kolam in Tamil.

Bhakta Potana’s Bhagavatam in Telugu in the 15th century also describes this custom. Bana Bhatta in the 6th century refers to them as auspicious drawings in the Kadambari. Vadibha Simha, around the 12th century, in his Gadya Chintamani, mentions the custom as the drawing of auspicious lines with red powder.

Rangoli is present in different forms all over India but is known by different names in different parts of the country.

Rangoli art is known by the following names:

  • Alpana (West Bengal)
  • Aripan (Bihar)
  • Aipan (Uttarakhand)
  • Chowk Poorana (Punjab)
  • Chowk Pujan (Uttar Pradesh)
  • Jhoti or Chita (Orissa)
  • Kolam (Tamil Nadu)
  • Muggu (Andhra Pradesh)
  • Madana (Rajasthan)
  • Pookkalam (Kerala)
  • Rangoli (Gujarat, Karnataka, and Maharashtra)
  • Rangoli/Rangole (Telangana)
  • Saathiya/ Gahuli (Gujarat)

Religious Significance of Drawing Rangoli

The custom of drawing rangoli appears to be very old and may have had its origin in the days of the Pandavas. It is believed that during their exile period in the Mahabharata, Draupadi before cooking used to draw three lines of rice flour on the traditional cooking hearth. This was for expressing gratitude to the sun god for giving them a divinely blessed vessel to cook food.

The practice was followed by Hindu women. They offer their gratitude to the rising sun – who is the Pratyaksha Brahman or the visible god.

It is believed that the sun’s energy will drive out all kinds of negative forces and it will usher in goodness.

The three symbolic white lines on the hearth were later extended to other places and in different colours. They were drawn on thresholds, walls, and other areas and with different designs based on the imagination of the individual.

Rangoli in Different States

In middle India mainly in Chhattisgarh Rangoli is called Chaook and is generally drawn at the entrance of a house or any other building. Powdered quartz, dried rice flour, or other forms of white dust powder is used for drawing Chaooks.

There are numerous traditional Chaook patterns, many more can be created depending on the creativity of the person who draws it. It is considered auspicious as it signifies showering of good luck and prosperity on the house and in the family. It is created based on different patterns.

Generally, women get up early in the morning and clean the area just outside the entrance of their houses with cow dung, sprinkle the area with water, and draw the Chaook.

In Maharashtra and Karnataka, rangolis are drawn on the doors of homes so that evil forces attempting to enter are repelled.

During the festival of Onam in Kerala, flowers are laid down for each of the ten days of the celebration, the design growing larger and more complex every day.

festival of Onam in Kerala rangoli - officialdiwali.com
festival of Onam in Kerala

In Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, and many parts of Maharashtra, the Rangoli or Kolam is drawn upon the ground or floor daily.

The designs are geometric and symmetrical मूल्यतः shapes but the materials used are similar rangoli: powdered quartz, rice flour, or slurry is used. Kōlam is a daily women’s ritualistic art form created by Tamil Hindu women throughout Tamil Nadu in southeastern India.

Each day before dawn, during the Brahma Muhurtam (believed to be the time when Brahma and all other deities descend to the earth) and sometimes before dusk, millions of women in the town, villages, and the cities of Tamil Nadu (and Pondicherry) draw kolam on the thresholds and floors of houses, temples, and businesses.

In Tamil culture, the threshold is of great significance as the meeting point of the internal and the external, and kōlam is one of the many manifestations of that significance.

The designs vary daily, from a simple star pattern of opposing, interlocking triangles to highly complex labyrinthine designs that are not easily comprehended. 

interlocking triangles to highly complex labyrinthine designs
Interlocking triangles to highly complex labyrinthine designs

In Rajasthan, the Mandana are painted on walls.

In Odisha, the Murja is put at the aangan of every home in front of the Tulsi plant called “Tulasi chahura”.

The Rangoli patterns mostly are dedicated to Lord Krishna and Lord Jagannath. The Murja festival is observed during the auspicious month of Kartika ending on Kartika Purnima.

Rangoli Pattern - Rajasthan, the Mandana are painted on walls.
Rangoli Pattern Rajasthan, the Mandana are painted on walls patterns

Rangoli’s most important element is being colourful and vibrant. These are auspicious symbols that have a central role in the design. The design for generations are passed on as they are made – and is required to make these symbols.

Traditionally, each new generation learns the art and thus a family keeps the tradition intact with some contemporary and modern twist to it sometimes. Some major symbols used in Rangoli are the lotus flower, its leaves, different kind of birds, intricate patterns, etc.

The second key element is using the materials used to make the rangoli. The materials used are easily found everywhere. Therefore, this art is prevalent in all homes, rich or poor.

Normally the major ingredients used to make rangoli are – Pise rice solution, the dried powder made from the leaves color, charcoal, burned soil was, wood sawdust, etc.. And also Tamil women draw the kōlam with their hands using rice flour /stone powder or other colored ingredients held in a container–usually a plastic bowl or a traditional half-coconut shell. 

There are two methods of kōlam making:

  1. The dry-rice-flour method
  2. The wet-rice-flour method.  

Creation of Rangoli

There are two primary ways to make a Rangoli, dry and wet, based on the materials used to create the outline and the next step is to fill that outline with colour.

Using a white material like chalk, sand, paint, or flour, the artist marks a center-point on the ground and cardinal points around it, usually in a square, hexagon, or circle depending on region and personal preference.

Ramifying that initially-simple pattern creates what is often an intricate and beautiful design. Motifs from nature (leaves, petals, feathers) and geometric patterns are common.

Less common but by no means rare are representational forms (like a peacock, icon, or landscape). “Readymade Rangoli” patterns, often as stencils or stickers, are becoming common, making it easier to create detailed or precise designs.

Once the outline is complete, the artist may choose to illuminate it with colour, again using either wet or dry ingredients like paints, coloured rice-water, gypsum powder, coloured sand etc.

The artist might also choose unprocessed materials like seeds, grains, spices, leaves, or flower petals to achieve lifelike hues and tones. Usually, they do not even require any devices such as a ruler, a thread, a brush, etc. to draw them. They freely move their fingers to create various shapes with ease.

I hope you like the Art and Cultural Significance of Rangoli Designs.

In our upcoming blog, we will be covering more about Rangoli designs as it is an important part of Diwali celebration! And, no wonders you must be looking out for easy rangoli designs that can be drawn in less time and yet gives a brighter look adding to the aesthetics of your home.

Stay Tuned,

Thank You