Rangoli – A Traditional Indian Folk Art



Rangoli- that literally means ‘layers of colors’ – is a traditional folk art from India. It is a form of a Yantra that is meant to welcome guests and positive energies. The first reference to a Rangoli can be found in ‘Chitralakshana’ – the earliest Indian treatise on painting. Rangoli is common to the whole of Indian and is known by different names in different parts of the country - Alpana in Bengal, Aripana in Bihar, Madana in Rajasthan, Rangoli in Gujarat and Maharashtra, Chowkpurana in Uttar Pradesh and Kolam in South India.

Rangolis are usually drawn to decorate courtyards and walls of Indian houses, and places of worship. Women draw them, after a ritualistic cleaning of the house. The powder of white stone, lime, rice flour and other cheap paste is used to draw intricate and ritual designs. Sometimes colors and petals are also used. Women use their bare fingers as brushes to draw the patterns. The designs are symbolic and common to the entire country, and can include natural motifs, animal images and geometrical patterns, with lines, dots, squares, circles, triangles; the swastika, lotus, trident, fish, conch shell, footprints (supposed to be of goddess Lakshmi), creepers, leaves, trees, flowers, animals and anthropomorphic figures. Each Indian state has its own style of painting a Rangoli. One important thing is that a Rangoli has to be a pattern of an unbroken line – with no gaps left anywhere for the evil spirits to enter.

Handicrafts Trade
More Trivia
Suggested Reading