RANGOLI

by Shatika, February 8, 2016

Rangoli, one of the most beautiful and most pleasing art forms of India, is comprised of two words, ‘rang’ meaning ‘colour’ and ‘aavalli’ meaning coloured creepers’ or ‘row of colors’. Rangoli basically comprises of the art of making designs or patterns on the walls or the floor of the house, using finely ground white powder along with different colors. Numerous households in the Indian subcontinent make use of Rangoli designs for decorating the courtyard of their house.

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 There are a number of legends associated with the origin of the Rangoli art in India. The earliest mention in regard to this art form is found in Chitralakshana, the earliest Indian treatise on painting. It is said that the death of a high priest’s son in a particular kingdom led to widespread despair. The people of that particular kingdom prayed to Lord Brahma, asking Him to bring the boy back to life. Moved by their prayers, Lord Brahma asked the king to paint a portrait of the boy on the floor. Thereafter, He breathed life into the portrait and the boy became alive again. It is believed that this was how the first Rangoli painting got made.

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Another legend has it that one day, God, in one of his artistic spells, extracted juice from one of the mango trees to be used as paint. He then used the paint to draw the figure of a beautiful woman. It is said that the painting of the woman was so magnificent that it put the heavenly maidens to shame. Thereafter, Rangoli became a popular form of women self-portrait. Even Chola rulers have been known to make quite extensive use of Rangoli as floor paintings. It is also said that powder or sand is used for making Rangoli designs because it signifies the impermanence of life and maya. So it gives us a lesson of life. Rangoli has a lot of importance in  a woman’s life as she expresses her joy with it, as she traces the happy events in her life with it.

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