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The Art of Rangoli: Traditions & Significance

Rangoli is Hindu folk art, for the most part, made as a beautiful design, pattern, or story on the floors at house entrances using colors, paints, flowers, Rice powder & spices, sand & sawdust, Geru, etc. The beginning of this craftsmanship can be followed by the Puranas (deals with Hindu folklore). Rangoli means colors and rows of colors, indicating that it refers to something that makes a beautiful pattern using varied colors to give a traditional look. It is believed that the practice of Rangoli started in Maharashtra and gradually spread to different parts of India.

Origin of the Rangoli

Colors have always played a vital role in the traditions of India. & ‘Rangoli’ is one such folk art belonging to the Indian traditions. 'Rangoli' is a Sanskrit word that implies an innovative articulation of workmanship using various ingredients. Rangoli was one of the major decorations or embellishments in ancient times, but they have not lost their charm even in the modern context. These traditional embellishments are still used in India at various festivals like Diwali, Ganesh-Utsav, Navratri, etc, and special occasions like marriages, birth ceremonies, and so on.

The emergence of the creative art of Rangoli stems from the Indian scriptures and Puranas. As per a legend recorded in Chitra Lakshana, the earliest composition on Indian artwork, a king and his realm extremely grieved on the death of the high priest's son. Everyone, including the king, appealed to Lord Brahma (creator of the Universe), who, moved by the petitions, requested the king to paint a representation from the kid on the floor so he could revive it. And with that, the specialty of floor art sprung up. What's more, that is how rice, flour, and blossoms were changed into pleasant contributions to God as floor art named Rangoli.

Another popular story is that God, in one of his creative episodes, extracted the juice from one of the mango trees as paint, and drew the figure of a woman so beautiful that it put the heavenly maidens to shame.


In ancient India, rangolis were utilized to design the floors of the living rooms, verandahs, courtyards, and the entrance gateways of homes, which apart from beautifying the homes, gave a warm and beautiful greeting to guests. In Indian societies, all visitors and guests involve an exceptionally unique spot as the saying goes “Atithi Devo Bhav”, and a rangoli is a declaration of this warm friendliness & hearty welcome. One of the reasons is that it is a significant part of the Diwali celebration since right now, individuals visit each other's homes to exchange greetings and good wishes.

Besides a creative expression of art, this is also considered a symbol of good luck, that’s why it is created during festivals to invite the blessings of gods and goddesses.

Rangolis are considered sacred as they invite good luck and fortune into the homes. They are also said to ward off evil spirits and bad luck from their homes. It is also a symbol of joy and peace. It has a great cultural as well as religious significance.

Place, Colour & Design Pattern

The formation of ideal rangoli art demands the use of vibrant rangoli colors on a properly groomed and cleaned floor of the entrance of the house, temple & Pooja place. Traditionally Indian houses would have a courtyard that is broomed and cleaned with cow-dunk before Rangoli is put.The hued powder is normally applied 'freehand' by allowing it to run from the hole shaped by squeezing the thumb and the index finger.

Traditionally to draw the basic outlines of the Rangoli, the most common ingredient used is the rice powder or rice paste because rice to all Indians is a sign of prosperity. Other traditionally used items are turmeric powder, vermillion, Geru, Chalk powder, however, in modern times people make use of synthetic colors extensively. In the olden days, the colors from the leaves, flowers, and the barks of the trees were also used to put colors into the Rangoli motif.

There are numerous designs of Rangolis depending upon the various cultures, folklores, and traditions followed by different regions. Mangoes, Animals like peacocks & fish, etc, Lotus & flowers, Bids like Parrots, swans, etc, creepers and climbers, Tulsi, geometric patterns, human figures & foliage, specific religious significant motifs, etc, are the popular designs that are used in the traditional form of Rangolis. If you notice these motifs also hold a very significant place in Indian traditions.

On antiquated occasions, rangolis were real improvements made on the doors and dividers of houses to light up and add tone to events being commended, similar to weddings, births, etc. They additionally implied a warm greeting for guests. Indeed in Maharashtra, India, housewives make them every morning. The plans would be basic and mathematical yet could conjure representative structures. Oil lights (diyas) would be set in the rangoli to give it another dimension.

State-wise Cultural Diversity & Traditions

Indian is the land of many languages and hence this art form has different names in different regions. The Rangoli culture is indeed very widespread. Rangoli, as it is called in north India has many different names in different Indian states and uses different materials. For example - Kolam in Tamilnadu, Poovekallam in Kerala, Chowkpurana in Chhattisgarh, Aipan in Uttarakhand, Madana in Rajasthan, Aripana in Bihar, Alpana in Bengal is ancient Hindu folk art, and many more.

Rangoli in Maharashtra:

This popular art among women is known as ‘Rangoli’ only in the state of Maharashtra. People usually draw or paint it in front of their homes using different colors primarily during major festivals like Diwali, also known as the ‘Festival of Lights'. Rangolis are believed to welcome Goddess Laxmi- the goddess of wealth as per Indian mythology. They are also believed to keep evil spirits at bay.

Kolam in Tamil Nadu:

In Tamil Nadu, It is known as the ‘Kolam’, its specialty lies in the fact that the Tamils make use of rice powder to make the designs. It is a common ritual to draw the Kolam in the courtyards every morning. Native to Tamil Nadu kolam, the primary motive behind Kolam was not enrichment but, ore of offering to insects. Kolams are drawn using rice flour so the insects would not need to walk excessively far for supper. Alongside insects, Kolam supported an amicable presence by setting a challenge to birds and other little animals for a feast. In current times, utilization of artificially manufactured hued powders is also done. N

Pookalam in Kerala:

The traditional Rangoli drawn with the help of flowers and floral designs is called the ‘Pookalam’ or the ‘Onam Rangoli’ in the state of Kerala. This type of Rangoli adorns every Malayalee home during the ten days’ festival of Onam to welcome king Mahabali.

Mandana in Rajasthan:

Named after the well-known craft of Mandana compositions, this sort of Rangoli is local to the spaces of Rajasthan. Mandana is attracted to secure wellbeing, welcome divine beings, and imprint the festival of celebrations. Mandana is essentially drawn using chalk powder. Ladies draw this delightful piece of work of art using a piece of cotton, a tuft of hair, or a simple brush made out of a date stick.

Chowkpurana in UP, MP & Chhattisgarh:

Well known for its kaleidoscopic designs, Chowkpurana is drawn using dried rice flour or different types of white residue powder. Even though there are various conventional Chaook designs, plans have advanced over the years relying upon the imagination of a more youthful generation. Considered auspicious, Chaook signifies showering of best of luck and success in the family.

Alpana in West Bengal:

The word Alpana is derived from the Sanskrit word 'alimpana'. Alpana signifies 'to mortar' or 'to cover with'. Generally, ladies made Alpana before dusk. Stringently attracted white tone, to draw an alpana that stays for a longer span, texture tones alongside a piece of paste can be utilized. Other normal tones that can be utilized are green and red-green to be acquired from leaves and red directly from the sindoor.

Jhoti in Odisha:

This customary workmanship is known as Jhoti or Chita in Odisha. Dissimilar to in different regions, jhoti can be drawn on walls. The white shading is obtained from a semi-fluid glue of rice flour to define this conventional boundary craftsmanship. Aside from a few plans and examples utilized in jhoti, little foot characteristics of goddess Lakshmi are an unquestionable requirement. It is exceptionally emblematic and significant. Jhoti was drawn by ladies of the house to set up a connection between the magical and the material.

Aripana in Bihar:

Aripana designs are fundamental to pretty much every festival in a Bihari family. Attracted to the yard or the passageway, any custom or festivity is considered fragmented without aripana in Bihar. Customarily, aripanas were attracted to make the developed land rich and productive by mystical exhibitions. Made with fingers, the sensitive designs are made using rice paste or pittha.

Muggu in Andhra Pradesh:

Known as Muggupindi, these rangoli designs are drawn with a combination of calcium or chalk powder. During celebrations, the blend is made of rice flour as an offering to insects, bugs, and sparrows. This lovely conventional workmanship has moved over the ages.

In this manner, reflecting local convictions and style dependent on a typical profound plane, the specialty of floor painting has endured all impacts and held and communicated the soul of Indian life.

Aipan in Uttarakhand:

In one of the northern states of India, i.e. In Uttarakhand, these rangoli patterns are called ‘Aipan’. It is a ritualistic folk art that is native to the Kumaon region of the state. It is drawn to commemorate auspicious occasions, festivals, and even rituals performed during the death of a person. The art form is also known to offer protection against evil. While earlier, the art form was found on the floors and walls of the houses, today it has marked its presence in many daily use objects or clothing pieces.

Rangoli, being a very popular Hindu folk art, has become an essential part of our culture over time. From keeping the evil spirits at bay to celebrating major Indian festivals, it is believed to have gained importance at a primary level. These beautiful art tend to represent the happiness, positivity, and liveliness of a household. Over time, imagination and innovative ideas in rangoli art have also been incorporated. Rangoli has been commercially developed in places such as five-star hotels. Its traditional charm, artistry, and importance continue today. The art of Rangoli is not only a cultural tradition but it also portrays the love and eagerness of a woman towards decorating her home.

Picture Credit: Internet

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