The Indian folk art that not only helps to decorate household but is believed to be an invitation to Hindu deities to bless the faithful with good luck and happiness is known as Rangoli.
Its creative patterns adorn households, social halls and places of worship and are showcased generally during festive seasons, auspicious observances, marriage ceremonies and happy social gatherings.
The sacred artwork is traditionally a folklore practice carried out by women of the household or a community.
Rangoli, the age-old religious-cum-social observance is especially common during festive celebrations, as witnessed recently in all the major towns and cities of our republic.
The folk art makes a bold statement about people’s love for colours and passion to illuminate the environment with vibrant designs and auspicious symbols.
The patterns may also include geometrical shapes, motifs and floral designs, with the faces of Hindu Gods and Goddesses.
Rangoli certainly makes a representation of India’s rich heritage which, as we know, is a land of festivals and colours.
The materials used to create Rangoli patterns are natural — coloured rice, dry flour, coloured sand, sawdust, flower petals, sindoor (vermilion) haldi (turmeric) and other natural materials. Since the art is prevalent in all homes, rich or poor, natural materials easily available are the best choice. Nevertheless, with time and resources available, Rangoli has been commercially developed and people tend to use chemically developed materials and colours to enhance their creations.
This makes it certain that the traditional charm and artistry remains intact.
Rangoli as an exposition of faith and tradition has also got a mythological legend that inspires reverence aligned to it. It is believed that Andaal worshipped the Lord Thirumal and, through her devotion and love, was united with him in marriage during this festive season. Consequently, unmarried girls in an Indian region get up before dawn to create a Rangoli to welcome the God Thirumal. The ritual, it is said, assures the girls of a proposal and a happy married life thereafter.
Here in Kenya, during the recently concluded festivities, women of the household and community displayed their creative abilities in drawing Rangolis. Rangoli competitions were held at various social and religious centres. Religious and social themes were exhibited and appreciation prizes awarded for creative and devotional exuberance.
In conclusion, Rangoli is an art-form that encompasses creative expression, faith, love and projects a sense of unity for believers and festive revellers alike.