Kolam – Rangoli

Kolam – Rangoli

 Kolam is most known in south India, Nepal, and few other Asian countries.

While walking through the village streets of Tamil Nadu, it is hard not to see the drawings on the ground. They are made of rice flour, chalk powder, rock powder or colored powders.

The making of such a kolams is widely practiced by women of South India.

In Tamil Nadu

Every morning in Tamil Nadu, millions of women, after cleaning the house, draw kolams on the ground, in front of a house and sometimes inside. The purpose of such a drawing, beside beauty is t bring a good luck. The women make it to ease their day of hard work.

Through the day, the drawings get walked on, washed out in the rain, or blown around in the wind.

It is believed that everyday morning, Lakshmi passes next to houses and the drawing will lead her to the family, while she will give her blessing. It is also drowned in complicated ways like labyrinths to trap all the demons inside.

In Nepal

The tradition of drawing kolam isn’t as big as in India. But they make a rangoli on special occasions. The most known festival is Divali. At this time they draw beautiful rangoli and decorate it with flowers and oil lamps.

Special occasions

During holiday occasions and special events, are drawn even more various kolams. To make them is used, a colored powder – kolam like this is often called rangoli. At this time you will walk through a street where are colorful paintings all around.

On special occasions, like weddings are made patterns that often stretch all the way down the street.

Seasonal messages like ‘Well come’ or ‘Happy Pongal’ can also be used in a Kolam.


While the Kolam is drawn throughout the year in most homes, it is especially significant during Pongal. The kolam defines the sacred area where the Pongal is prepared.

While in Tamil Nadu many are cooking on a fire with wood as fuel, they cook the Pongal dish within the perimeters of kolam.

On Pongal are often drawn patterns like ‘cows’ or pots with overflowing milk’.

Some major symbols used in Rangoli are the lotus flower, its leaves, mango, Tue vase, fish, different kind of birds like parrots, swans, peacocks, and human figures and foliage.

It used to be a matter of pride to be able to draw large complicated patterns without lifting the hand off the floor or standing up in between. Indian girls would wait for the festivals to show off their talent. It is a form of artistic expression. Women with more creativity try to draw as difficult patterns as possible and become their neighbor’s envy. It is like an art show, every day. Strangers and passerby could appreciate your artwork as they walk along the street.  Many of these created patterns have been passed on from generation to generation, from mothers to daughters.

Although it is mostly a Hindu tradition, kolam is also known to the Jains, Buddhists and Parsis. It is said that Gautama Buddha was himself an expert in this art.

All the designs have their meanings. Like flowers represent joy and hapiness. There are also many combinations of dots and lines that have different names and that I’m not going to write about as I think it doesn’t have a point.

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