Day 7 Bumps in the Night

Rangoli Artwork

In today's video, you saw women creating special designs on the ground in front of their home. These traditional designs are called rangoli. (They are known as kolam in the Tamil language and muggu in the Telugu language.)

Rangoli designs are symetrical patterns and are usually created on ground using flour or powder. The patterns are very complicated and are especially popular during Hindu festival months.

Sometimes, several women together will create one large design. When the symmetrical pattern is decorated in colors using colored sand or flowers, then it is called rangoli. Some rangoli designs are passed down through the generations from mother to daughter. Certain designs are created on special occasions such as weddings and Hindu festivals like Diwali, the Festival of Lights.

Rangoli are thought to bestow prosperity on homes. Every morning in southern India, millions of women draw rangoli on the ground with white rice powder. Through the day, the drawings get walked on, rained out, or blown around in the wind; new ones are made the next day.

Every morning before sunrise, the floor is cleaned with water and the muddy floor is swept well for an even surface. The rangoli are generally drawn while the surface is still damp so that it adheres better.

Occasionally, cow dung is also used to wax the floors. In some cultures, cow dung is believed to have antiseptic properties and that it provides a literal threshold of protection for the home. It also provides contrast with the white powder.

Women used to primarily use rice flour to create these patterns or designs. Holding a handful of flour in her right hand, the woman will uniformly drop the flour to make a line through her thumb and pointer finger, and keeps on moving her hands to make the curve or the dots. Today, women prefer to use crushed stone powder or the many brilliantly colored synthetic powders available in the market.

Create your own rangoli work of art!

Depending on the weather, you may be able to create your rangoli using chalk on the sidewalk or driveway outside. Or, you can use colored chalk or paint to make your design on black construction paper or cut out colored paper and glue onto paper plates.

Rangoli come in all shapes and sizes. The designs are usually symetrical and often begin with geometric shapes drawn on a grid of dots. Start by outlining your design and then go back and add some bright colors. You can make your design as simple or complex as you want!

Online resources to get you started:

Every rangoli is unique - just like the person who created it!