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Significance of Rangolis During Diwali


Rangoli is a traditional Indian art of decorating the entrance to a house. Learn more about its importance during Diwali.


Diwali is touted as a festival of lights. However, colours also play a big role in this festival. Houses are freshly painted and adorned with a multitude of decorations. People buy new clothes and gifts for their family and friends. Colours are most noticeable though in the traditional rangoli patterns that grace the entrance of every home.


About Rangoli

Rangoli is a timeless tradition that is followed all over India. Rangoli is also known as alpana, aripoma, or kolam. It is an ancient art, practiced by almost all households. In many cases, designs are passed down through generations with some of them being hundreds of years old.

The word 'rangoli' is said to have been derived from the words 'rang' and 'aavalli' which refers to a row of colours. Rangoli designs and colours vary between different regions but they all follow some basic patterns. A rangoli usually has a geometrical structure that is also symmetrical. The design patterns often consist of natural elements like animals, flowers, etc.


Rangoli at Diwali

Diwali is celebrated, primarily to herald the coming of the goddess Lakshmi. Prayers are offered to her, 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. Rangoli patterns are usually made using coloured chalk, rice powder, and crushed limestone.

There is no limit to how big a rangoli can be. Most rangolis are the same size as a door mat placed at an entrance. These rangolis are especially popular among residents of city buildings, where space is a constraint. For larger houses like bungalows, it is not uncommon to find an entire courtyard filled with a colourfully designed rangoli.

The variety in patterns and the difficulty levels for a rangoli is largely dependent on the talents and skills of the person making the rangoli. A rangoli is always made by hand and all designs are carved out using the fingers. A line is usually drawn using a single finger, like a pencil. In some cases, a pattern may be outlined using dotted movements, which are joined together at the end. Once a pattern is formed, the desired colours are filled in.


Rangoli Patterns

A rangoli drawn during diwali usually follows a certain theme. The central design or motif is symbolic and represents a deity or the main concept of the theme. The unity of man and nature can be shown by drawing natural elements like bids, snakes, fish, etc. Another common theme for a rangoli is a celestial one, using symbols like the sun, moon, signs of the zodiac, etc. as the central motif.

A rangoli design usually has a geometric shape, which is supposed to denote the infiniteness of time. A rangoli is also bordered by a lotus design, to represent the goddess Lakshmi. The lotus is also symbolic for the beginning of life. When drawn as an outline, it could also refer to a heart or a wheel.


Rangolis in Different States

Rangoli patterns vary in different Indian states. A basic rangoli would usually consist of two interfacing triangles. These are drawn to symbolise the Goddess of knowledge, Saraswati. A twenty four petal lotus border outlines the triangles. At the four corners of the border, tiny footprints are drawn, which represent Lakshmi's footprints.

In the northern parts of Bihar, Lakshmi's footprints are drawn on the doorstep, with the toes pointing towards the entrance of the house. A typical rangoli drawn in Andhra Pradesh, has an eight petal lotus which is formed by a variety of geometric patterns. This lotus is called 'ashtadal kamal'. In Tamil Nadu, an eight pointed star, referred to as 'hridaya kalam', replaces the eight petal lotus. This means the lotus of the heart. Gujarat itself is said to have almost a thousand variations of the lotus that are drawn during Diwali.


No matter the design, diwali would be incomplete without the traditional rangoli to welcome guests, both divine and human. Rangolis are drawn in households throughout the country. In many cases, the drawing of the rangoli is a family tradition and is a time for togetherness.


What do you think about the tradition of drawing rangolis? Do you draw a rangoli for your home during diwali each year? Is your rangoli design simple or elaborate? To share your views, tips and experiences, click here.


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