An adaptation of the Buddhist Mandala, the idea of a rangolis (also known as kolan or muggu) began with simple geometric shapes and has today evolved into complex geometric structures, deity impressions and flower or petal designs. Today, rangolis are hailed as a complex Indian folk art form that symbolizes tradition, creativity and religion.
Gayatri Gandhi, who makes professional rangolis, says, “Today there is so much you can do with designs. Earlier, people just wanted simple designs but today, the more complex the design the better. The days of instant rangolis are gone. Even so, customers still demand swastika, lotus and mango designs. But, they also like newer and innovative designs so I cater to specific customer needs and preferences.”
Although rangolis are often two-dimensional, other three-dimensional art forms lack the vibrancy of a simply well-made rangoli. Colours are used in abundance and as generously as possible. Even in the earlier days, colourful rangolis on streets and pavements were seen as a good sign.
Sandhya Suryavanshi, who is currently pursuing medicine and homoeopathy, says, “Drawing rangolis is a family ritual for us. No matter how busy our study and work schedule is, we join together and make designs that have been used on festive occasions in the family for years together. It’s a great occasion to bond and most importantly, it signifies the family coming together as one and taking time out from our busy schedules. ”
Rangolis, however, were deemed important not just because they signified auspiciousness but because they beautified a dull surrounding. They are most popular during the festive season and can be found outside most houses as a sign of welcome. This is primarily because they have a calming effect on people and radiate cheerfulness.
Rangolis come in various shapes and sizes and in different patterns and designs these days. Prerna Shroff, a homemaker, says, “If you walk into the market you see so many different types of customized rangoli designs that can be made in different shapes and designs using plywood, wooden plates, plastic and even cloth. These customised designs are pre-decorated with pearls, beads, mirrors and it can further be made more creative depending on one’s personal preferences.”
Few people practice the art of creating rangolis in the name of rituals and traditions. The initial designs are rarely followed anymore as more modern designs have given way instead. Sunita Jain, a housewife, says, “Making rangolis is a great tradition to follow, whether in the name of tradition of ritual or merely
as a thing of beauty meant to be admired. Although, we get a lot of readymade rangolis in the market, I prefer personalised ones. These can be made using acrylic paint, flower petals or even eco-friendly colours. We are spoilt with choice, really.”
-With inputs from Nikita Shroff