Diwali is one of the most important festivals for Hindus across the world. In India, it is celebrated with a lot of zeal and enthusiasm as it has a huge religious significance. Mythologically, Diwali celebrates the return of Lord Rama back to his kingdom with his wife Sita and brother Laxman after 11 years of exile. It is also considered an auspicious day for money and business and Lord Laxmi is worshipped by Hindus. Diwali is also therefore referred to asLaxmi Poojan. Offerings to the deity are made in the form of sweets, fruits, money and books of accounts! The festival marks the beginning of the Hindu New year and because it follows the Hindu calendar it does not a have a fixed date every year. It usually falls in the month of October or November. Diwali conjures up of a vision of bright lights, firecrackers, traditional pooja, lots of decoration, lots of dressing up and delicious food and snacks. In the midst of all those bright sparkling lights from the lamps, diyas, and fireworks, there is a traditional decorative artwork which is an inseparable part of the celebrations; the Rangoli.
Rangoli is derived from the word”Rang”meaning color and “avalli” meaning a row. Rangoli is an Indian artform that has been passed down the generations. It is a temporary pattern created on the floor using dry or wet powders or even flowers. The artist first draws out the design using a chalk, pen or just a white powder with hand. Once the basic pattern is created, it is then filled with different colors usually bright and vibrant. The placing of the Rangoli is important. It is ideal to have it at the entrance of the house, therefore one would see rangolis in the living room or courtyards or right outside the entrance of the house. Rangoli is also made from flowers or a mix of both powders and flowers/flower petals. Oil lamps or diyas can also be added at the end to make the Rangoli even more stunning and eye-catching.
The Diwali rangoli has both aesthetic and religious significance. Rangoli is created in honour of a guest ideally at the entrance of the house. It is believed that on Diwali, Goddess Laxmi, the God of wealth and prosperity visits every home and therefore the Rangoli is made in order to welcome her. Since people also visit each other’s house to greet and exchange gifts, Rangoli is seen a part of the overall decoration to welcome guests with love and respect.
The making of Rangoli is quite an enjoyable process in itself. On Diwali day, people wake up early, typically clean their homes inside out, bathe and start preparing the decoration, food and snacks. Multiple family members , both young and old can participate in making Rangoli. Though traditionally it is the women of the house that make rangolis, men are active participants these days. Children love taking part too. It is how they learn this art and the practice is carried on to the next generation.
There is no set rule regarding the size and shape of a rangoli. In most urban households, one can see doormat sized rangolis outside the door on Diwali. In a multi-storied apartment, space is constrained and therefore the size is restricted to the space that does not disturb a neighbour’s entrance. In independent bungalows or homes outside of cities that enjoy more outdoor space,one can see huge Rangoli filling up the entire porch or pathway. Close-knit communities where families are related would often make a huge rangoli in the common area.
When it comes to the style of Rangoli, though there are some designs that are inspired by tradition and history, a lot depends on the rangoli maker’s choice really. Thankfully, there’s no right or wrong when making Rangoli for Diwali although, Rangolis featuring Diya(oil lamp), Ganesha (The Hindu Elephant God), lotus, Kalash(traditional pot decorated with leaves) and peacock are common. Geometric patterns are also very popular. Some styles may not even need any colors to be filled in. They are simply made by hand using rice flour, limestone powder or cement based white mixture. These simple rangolis are stunning nevertheless and can range from simple basic patterns to pretty intricate. Some Rangolis do away with powders altogether and are only made using flowers or flower petals. These brilliant patterns are ideal for spacious courtyards as they do not take up a lot of time to finish. The Rangoli looks like a stunning colourful carpet.
Diwali is also one of the times of the year when Rangoli making competitions are held throughout India; in schools, colleges, residential complexes and even workplaces. These are organised both at private and public levels. Witnessing one of these events is a must do item on every traveller’s list of things to do when in India. The skilled hands of some really talented people produce brilliant designs in a matter of minutes. It is fascinating to watch a vibrant colored peacock, an intricate folk pattern or a portrait of a famous personality come into life, all done by hand using just colourful dry powders. The steady hands and clever tricks help create the perfect shades and for a newbie, it may even be difficult to distinguish if a picture is actually a rangoli or a painting! Rangoli making competitions are usually held few days before Diwali and they set a tone for the huge celebrations to come.
Rangoli is an ancient art form and with Diwali, it becomes one of the important things to do in homes. Even at workplaces, it is not uncommon to see rangolis being made to welcome Goddess Laxmi. After all, she is the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. For Diwali, people want to look and feel their best and want the same for their homes too so that every visitor to their home feels special and honoured. With a beautiful Rangoli to welcome friends and relatives, the true spirit and festivity of Diwali can be felt in each home. Have a look to our magazine and get inspired for your personal rangoli.
Did you just created a wonderful rangoli design? Would you do one again? Let us know any of your tips and tricks on how to choose your own rangoli design.