|Kolams are a symbol of
auspiciousness. It is Hindu belief that that
the geometrical patterns & designs applied with
rice flour at the entrance to a home, invites
Goddess lakshmi into the household, and drives away
the evil spirits. It is mostly a South Indian
tradition, practised widely in Tamilnadu.
Kolams are also applied daily in the pooja room near
the lamps. There are specific kolams
attributed to the various deities.
Traditionally, the women wash the path in front of the house. (Cowdung is used to clean up the ground, though this practise is no longer in vogue in the cities, mainly because cowdung is not easily available & most entrance path are now laid in cement or tiles.) Finely ground rice powder is then used to apply kolams. This practice is followed in the evenings also.
The reason for using rice flour is that we are providing food for the ants & other small insects. In these days finely ground white stone powder is used, for this is easier to apply & also the kolams are brighter & well finished. Even if ground stone powder is used, one could mix rice flour in it.
Kaavi (brick red powder) is applied as an outline, especially on special occasions and pooja days.
In places, where there is a great gathering of people & movement, rice paste made by mixing rice flour with little water is used to apply kolams. This is to ensure that the kolams are not rubbed off easily. This is especially applied in temples & wedding halls. During Krishna Jayanthi, tiny feet symbols are drawn using the rice paste from the entrance of the house leading upto the pooja room, where the sweets made for the occasion are placed. It is assumed that child Lord Krishna walks into each house & partakes of the meal provided.
The month of margazhi (mid Dec) is a
gala time for all kolam lovers in the cities and
villages. Women start applying huge
beautiful kolams very early in the morning
undaunted by the chill morning dew. They
start learning kolams and make preparations
overnight testing the kolam on paper so that they
can do a perfect job the next morning. There
is a healthy competition in each street, each
trying to outdo the others. The current trend is
to create colourful rangolis (rang - colour in
Hindi) applying colour powders to fill up the
There are several types of kolam designs - line kolams, the free hand drawing of lines to make a geometrical pattern.
Pulli (dots) are arranged in a specific sequence and order & these pullis are joined to make pictorial designs.
In pulli kolams, there are two types
Display of kolams contributed by visitors
Kolams reproduced on paper