Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Rangoli - The art of greeting and gratitude

     Rangoli is an Indian art that blends the beautiful colors of diverse Indian culture and tradition.  The term Rangoli is derived from the terms Rang and Aavalli that means colors and row of colors respectively. As the name suggests, it is an art performed with beautiful and vibrant mixed of colors. It is a decorative piece of painting that uses finely ground white powder and blend of colors to enlighten the entrances of many Indian houses. 

     The original traces of rangoli are found in a legend recorded in the Chitralakshana that is the earliest Indian thesis on painting. It is believed ages ago, Lord Brahma infused life into a painting of a boy. That painting was created by the King of that time who lost his son. He was asked by Lord Brahma to draw a painting of his son so that the Lord can give a new life to him. That is considered to be the first Indian painting.  When it comes to rangoli, it is completely different from what we know as painting. Though it is one of the forms but not the one we draw on canvas with fabric colors or oil paints. It a beautiful form pained on floors that uses powder colors to give art a magical beauty and charm. 

     There are many different types of rangoli. The traditional type is the one with 16-dots or 32-dots where lines are interconnected from various dots to form a decorative piece that is outlined by white dusty powder and the interior of the design is beautifully filled with different colors depending on the design or pattern. Another form is the free-hand design that is much popular in the modern era. This form does not require any dot or lines to create a rangoli.

     Any design or drawing is simply drawn on the floor free-handed and then filled with the desired colors.  The motifs or designs used for Rangoli are mostly taken from the natural surroundings like that of a peacock, swans, creepers, animals, flowers, and footprints of God or Goddess or holy symbols like swastik.

    Some even go for geometrical patterns like square, circles, and triangle. The range of vibrant colors filled in these patterns and designs makes them look more beautiful and attractive. Though in the early days, colors were drawn from barks of trees and leaves but in the present time many synthetic forms are available.

      In the olden days, rangoli was restricted to auspicious occasions and festivals like Diwali. It is believed that on Diwali, every entrance of every house is decorated with charming rangoli painting to welcome Goddess Lakshmi. Nowadays, this beautiful art needs no occasion. It has now become a medium to welcome guests, spreading joy and pleasure everywhere. Through this beautiful Indian art form, people express their gratitude and hospitality to all the guests irrespective of occasions and festivals.

      The devotees of Lord Jagannath really enjoy expressing  their gratitude on Ratha Yatra festival. Here in Mumbai, we have 13 Ratha Yatras and during all of them you can see the devotees making rangolis to welcome the Lord throughout the procession, which sometimes lasts five, six or even seven hours! 

And they don't stop!

You can watch them creating the rangolis during all the time!

     You may imagine that it may not be comfortable staying with the legs and back bent, making these drawings by many hours, but  they do it very happily, in order to express their love and gift Lord Jagannatha with a beautiful offering!

     Your servant
     Vaisnava Krpa dd

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