Art in Indian households #1

Come Diwali, and all households in India gear up to decorate their homes with lights, lamps and of course, RANGOLI! Even offices and parties have Rangoli competitions with pretty colours brightening up lobbies and living rooms. But is this a new trend? NO.

India, known as the land of art and culture, has been exposed to art in its primitive days of civilisation. Indian households have used art in multifarius ways, intertwining their lives with the freshness of art. Be it floor art like Rangoli, Kolam, Pookalam, Alpona or wall art like those in Worli or tribal villages across India, art has been everywhere, and each of these forms carry a significance. In this series of Art in Indian Households, we would try to look into the history and the tradition of some of these art forms in Indian houses.

In India, houses were considered to be a pure sanctum, and art in the entrance of a house or its courtyard was primarily to attract cosmic forces and bring positivity to the household. The mention of such designs date back to the epics like Ramayana, where the people of Ayodhya prepared colourful Rangolis in order to welcome Rama from exile.

Though the patterns, design and colours varied acros these styles, few aspects are common to most. Most of the floor art designs have a central symbol or pattern, designed to guide the forces into the households. Many of them hold meanings and may even tell stories.



History- The word Rangoli comes from to Sanskrit words- “Rang” meaning colour, and “avalli” meaning a row, thus, Rangoli refers to a row of colours. The colours of Rangoli were made from rice flour, to which natural colours like that of turmeric, or vermillion (sindoor) were added.

Tradition- Rangolis were made at doorsteps and courtyards, mostly to welcome the Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi or Ganesha. It also reflected the happiness in life. Mostly made by the women of the households, Rangolis were also made by male members during an auspicious ritual to create a confined sacred place. Rangolis were made afresh everyday and wiped off the next day.

Design significance- A typical Rangoli design has a centrepiece and a symmetrical design around it in different colours. Geometrical patterns, motifs like the Swastika, lotus, that of deities, conch shells, diyas (lamps) or animals are commonly used as the design elements.

Modern take- While intricate designs are common, the use of stencils by beginners to make their own rangoli has also gained popularity. Also, instead of the natural colours, chemical powders are now used.

Share your pictures of Rangoli with us, along with your stories!

Remember, happiness is handmade.


Team Ityadia


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