Rangoli and Rangoli Designs / Patterns in India

Rangoli Designs

As the festival of colors is around the corner, here is some interesting lowdown of rangoli.  Rangoli comes from a Sanskrit word, ‘rangavalli’. The colloquial word, Rangoli is made of two words, Rang or color, and Holi, which means celebrations. Rangoli is designed primarily for two main reasons, which are beauty and auspiciousness More than religious, it is the spiritual factor that kicks in with rangoli.  While sculpture and painting aren’t an affordable form of knowledge and art, you can find rangoli in front of every house, irrespective of the status and stature.

Rangoli with flowers

An art form, Rangoli is native to India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. In Bangladesh, it is called alpana.  Usually, petals, flowers, dry flour, colored sand, chalk and colored rice is used to create a rangoli pattern.  In Hinduism, rangolis are created on festival and auspicious occasions such as Onam, Diwali, Pongal and Holi but in some states such as Andhra Pradesh, people draw rangoli patterns in front of their homes before sleeping and in the morning again. Offices and shop owners also create patterns before leaving for their home and create a fresh one once they start a new day.

Rangoli in India are of two types, dry and wet.  Dry type of rangoli is made with chalk, sand or flour whereas wet rangolis are made with paint. Geometric patterns and representational pattern of deities such as peacock, flowers and landscape are very common.  Usually, chalk and white powder is used to create an outline and petals, flowers or colored sand is used to fill the design.

If you aren’t much comfortable with drawing a rangoli pattern, you can go for stencils, round sieve and readymade rangoli stickers that can help you create exact and precise design.

Office Rangoli Designs

Historical References to Rangoli Patterns

It is believed that Andal, the only female saint among 12 Alvar saints worshipped Lord Thirumaal. She got married to him in Margazhi month and in her respect and to welcome the Lord.  So, in Tamil Nadu, unmarried girls would wake up before dawn in the month of Margazhi and draw rangoli. Moreover, you can find the reference of Rangoli at Sita’s wedding mandap.  The art of rangoli was flourished during the reign of Chola Rulers.

The tradition of Rangoli can’t be traced back to a date exactly, however; it is true that Rangoli is considered to be very sacred and auspicious especially during the festive time.

Rangoli Patterns / Designs

Understanding Rangoli Patterns from a Psychological View Point

Consider Rangoli as a spiritual arrangement of colors.  If you take a glance at Rangoli, you can see how symmetrical the design is. The left and right side of the design has to balance each other and look similar.  Expert believe that you should understand the right and left of a rangoli as Yin and Yang,  The sharp edges of Rangoli represent luck, growth, and prosperity of people. The centerpiece of Rangoli symbolizes ‘garbha’, the main chamber of a temple. Moreover, if you see it closely, the dots find a prominent place in the pattern of a rangoli, which can also be related to tilak on the forehead or the attention-spot, pituitary gland.

It has also been established that rangoli on the floor can have a calming effect on the visitors arriving in the house.  It creates vibrations into visitors’ mind, making him feel welcome, happy and comfortable with the host’s environment.

Hence, Rangoli creates a vibration pattern, which brain responds to but the shapes and Rangoli patterns are the most important and should be paid attention to as these can have different implications and effects on the mind.  It has been believed that triangle shapes in a rangoli design stimulate emotions and neural circuitry.  On the other hand, science has also established that colors have a positive effect on the mind. The effect of colors and visual patterns is studied under Cymatherapy. The branch studies the complex vibrations transformed into sound patterns and how this help to heal emotions and body.

Rangoli with Candles & flowers

State-Wise Rangoli Pattern in India:

Every state has a different name for its rangoli pattern.  In Rajasthan, it is called Mandana, in Bihar, it is called arjpan, Bengalis  call it alpana,  in Chhattisgarh, it is called Chaookpurna, Rangoli in Karnataka, Mugglu in Andhra Pradesh, Saathiya in Gujarat,  Kolam in Tamil Nadu and Aipan in Kumaon.  In Chattisgarh, women would get up early, clean the area and draw pattern based on their belief and family systems. It is believed that rangoli brings prosperity and good luck for the owner and his family. Before drawing a rangoli pattern, cow dung would be smeared on the floor and then chalk or rice flour would be sprinkled to draw a pattern called chaook.

In Maharashtra, rangolis are believed to keep evil spirits at bay.  In Kerala, rangolis are created during Onam. With each passing day of Onam, the design of rangoli created by flowers and petals grow larger and intricate whereas, in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, rangolis are created every day using rice flour, colored sand or chalk.

In Maharashtra, rangolis are drawn on the doors of homes so that evil forces attempting to enter are repelled. During the festival of Onam in Kerala, flowers are laid down for each of the ten days of the celebration, the design growing larger and more complex every day. In Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, the Kolam is drawn upon the ground or floor daily. In Rajasthan, mandanas are created on walls on cow dung-smeared walls. Since cow dung is considered sacred in India, it is used extensively for a cleaner and even floor. It also gives out the feel of spiritually-enhanced ambiance. In Kumaon, Thapa,  a range of symbols and bel-buttiyan is used.

Rangoli Patterns / Designs

There are also differences between the rangoli designs between North India and South India.  North India has square grid whereas South Indian Rangoli designs are hexagonal.  The color used in North Indian Rangoli is usually gypsum and in South India, rice flour is used. Onam rangoli design is based on flowers.  Nowadays, free flow designs are much in practice that is more abstract in nature. These days, chemical based colors and artificial dyes are also being used for a more colorful and brighter variation. Haldi, red brick powder, sindoor and other colors are also being used for rangoli making.

Design Elements of Rangoli:

Utswdhermita is the most important element of a rangoli. It is also the cardinal point or centre of a rangoli. Usually, rangolis aren’t just a creative representation but also a heritage that is passed on from a generation to another to keep the traditions alive. However, as the new generation keeps instilling new dimension to the design, it keeps evolving.  Fish, swan, parrots, Tue vase, parrots, mango, lotus, Ganesha, diyas, Goddess Laxmi and birds are the main elements of a rangoli design.

The most amazing aspect of rangoli material is that the ingredients can be found at every house. Whether one is poor or rich, it is just the creativity and emotion that counts and not the material. And that’s’ a strong message going out to all of us that spirituality and prosperity don’t have to be limited to a specific class or caste.

The background is equally important while creating a rangoli pattern because it needs to be created on a clear floor or wall. One can make a rangoli on a wall, floor or in the middle of floor or in the corner, but the background needs to be clean and even.

Rangoli Shops