Kolam refers to decorative artwork drawn on the floor in
front of houses and in front of deities in Puja rooms. Kolam is considered
as an important form of artistic expression in India. Undoubtedly, Kolam
can be called a most essential part of
Indian culture and it serves to embellish the doorstep and make it
look more inviting. Moreover, it is a symbol of good fortune.
The Tamil month 'Markazhi' (mid December to mid January) is particularly important month for Kolams, when fairly large sized Kolams are put in front of the houses.
The Use Of Colours
The original Tamil Kolam merely consists of white dots around which the intertwined lines are drawn, whereas the North Indian "Rangoli" is made up of various colours. In recent times, the use of colours has become popular even in South India .
The Art Of Kolam
The "Kolam" is the most important kind of female artistic expression in India. It is a time old cultural tradition of South Indian families. Young girls learn this artwork from their mother, grandmother and aunties. The skill in drawing Kolams is still one of the criteria on the basis of which a potential bride is judged in rural areas.
Early at sunrise, women and girls clean the ground in front of their houses with water and cow dung in order to draw a Kolam there. They first outline an intricate geometrical pattern with individual dots, and then draw lines around these dots. Ideally, a Kolam consists of one single uninterrupted line.
The Kolam is an almost mathematical type of art that has its own fixed rules. According to these rules, the most intriguing patterns may be composed. Originally, Kolams were strictly geometrical, but gradually a more representational style has emerged which is used especially on festival days. Corresponding to the festival that is celebrated, the adequate paraphernalia, such as lamps ("Kuttuvilakku"), Shivalingas, temple cars, etc. are portrayed.
Use Of Rice Powder In Kolam
In former times, Kolams also had another purpose: since previously rice powder was used for this transitory kind of art, the drawings also provided nourishment for smaller animals, such as birds or ants. Nowadays, however, quartz powder is used instead.
Rice powder serves to feed ants to show one must take care of other forms of life. The dry, coarsely ground rice flour is placed between the thumb and the forefinger and rubbed together and moved along a predetermined design by the drawer. This is an art taught at a young age and is difficult to master unless one practices.
The entrance decoration is a gesture of welcome. It is a symbol of inviting Goddess Mahalakshmi to home everyday. The designs are symbolic and basically common to the whole country, like geometrical patterns with line, dots, squares, circles triangles, the 'Swastika', lotus, trident conch shell, leaves, trees and flowers. No gaps to be left anywhere between the line for evil spirits to enter.
Kolam is not only aesthetic pleasing to the eye, but makes home attractive and spiritual. "Navagraha Kolam", "Iswarya Kolam" are spiritual Kolams. For opening ceremonies, hotel promotions, "Bharata Natya Arrangetrams", Kolams are very popular. Foreigners also enjoy this traditional art.