It is art for beauty's sake

It is art for beauty's sake

It is art for beauty's sake

While rangoli may have adapted to the new trends with time, its cultural significance remains unaltered. It still signifies a rare synthesis of joy, faith, protection and beauty, observes Usha S


Shravana masa, as we all know, is the beginning of a new season of festivals in every household. Most homes celebrate this long season with poojas, participate in public religious functions, wear new attires, meet friends and relatives, and exchange sweets and gifts. There is also another custom that steals focus during this season of festivals - rangoli, the art of drawing designs and patterns on the floor.

The laborious process of drawing rangoli by hand is now vastly replaced with using
templates of different designs and shapes. Also, various designs are printed on a synthetic sheet with glue on one side, which can be fixed at the desired spot and can also be retained for a long time. However, as B P Bayiri, the late and great rangoli artist, maintained, there is no alternative to the rich tradition of drawing rangoli by hand. Of late, fluorescent-coloured glues, and coloured kundans and small beads are available for decorating it.

Here, the sketch is drawn on a white paper and it is enlarged to the required size. A thick transparent polymer sheet is placed and coloured glue is spread along the outline and kundans and beads are glued as desired. With this, many complicated designs and the forms of various deities are also made ready, giving the rangoli a three-dimensional look.

While rangoli may have adapted to the new trends with time, its cultural significance remains unaltered.

Rangoli or Rangavalli remains one of the popular art forms of sand painting, where
finely ground coloured powder, rice and flowers may be used. Ranga means colour and avalli means a row.

This assumes different names in different parts of our land: it is alpana in Bengal, aripana in Bihar and madana in Rajasthan. The name rangoli is popular in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka. It is chowka purana in Uttar Pradesh, kolam for Tamilians and Keralities, and moggu for those who speak Telugu. Its origin is traced back to legends recorded in Chitralakshana, the earliest Indian treatise on painting. In our ancient culture, the concept of art, God and life are integrated with one another, which is rather well exhibited in  a rangoli. Even in our ancient epics and literatures, there have been several references to this art form that revels in beauty above
all else.

Rangoli, though a compulsory custom during special occasions, is also drawn on
ordinary days in most Indian households across the country. This is a form of offering pooja to the gods. Shakti pooja is performed by drawing different types of mandalas,
depending on the pooja to be performed. Even while performing navagraha pooja, the nine planets are identified with nine different types of grains and colours and are arranged in

accordance with their positions in the mandala. Even auspicious functions, like
welcoming a newborn into the family, or a wedding calls for a hase rangoli beneath the seat where the people to be graced will sit. It is also drawn in front of the banana leaves spread for the lunch offered to guests. Rangoli has come to signify a rare synthesis of joy, faith, protection and beauty.

Usually, a floor is used as the base. However, even the walls may be utilised for drawing rangoli. Traditional motifs for rangoli are inspired by nature. Peacocks, swans, flowers, fruits and creepers are commonly used.

Traditionally, the colour used is supposed to be natural dyes made from the bark of certain trees. Today, synthetic dyes are more

commonly used, as they are available in a wide variety of bright colours. To give the same three dimensional effects, different-sized grains, cereals and pulses are used. Normally, the design employed is of specific geometric shapes: lines, dots, circles, triangle, swastika and the like. Interestingly, there are no broken lines in a rangoli pattern, for it is believed that evil spirits may enter through the gaps otherwise.

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