Diwali or Deepavali is the festival of lights. It is also the festival of joy, colour and sweets!
People light diyas, or clay lamps decorate the entrances to their homes with Rangoli – beautiful designs made with coloured powders.
There are two theories as to the reason behind decorating the entrance with Diwali Rangoli.
One belief is that this particular tradition began when the virtuous Lord Ram returned to his kingdom Ayodhya after spending fourteen years in exile, and after a terrible War in which he defeated the asura King Raavan.
Another belief is that this is the time that the Goddess of Wealth, Lakshmi Devi, visits homes to bless them and ensure their prosperity. Making rangoli designs is to please and welcome the goddess into the home.
Diwali is also a time when people welcome friends, family and neighbours into their homes. The rangoli designs made at the entrance, therefore, are a way of welcoming guests too.
The central design usually denotes the deity, or the theme, and other motifs used in the design are flora and fauna, reflecting on the unity of humans and Nature. It is also common to use zodiac signs and other astronomic symbols. The circular shape of the Rangoli signifies time’s endlessness. The layered lotus signifies Lakshmi Devi, unfolding life. Designs with two interfacing triangles are a symbol for Saraswati Devi, the Goddess of learning. Usually this design is encircled with a border of lotus flowers made of 24 petals. The final circle is decorated with Lakshmi’s footprints.
In Bihar, it is customary to dray Lakshmi Devi’s footprints at the door with her toes pointing inwards, symbolizing her entrance inside the home.
In south India, the Lotus is the basis for most rangoli designs. In Tamil Nadu, an eight pointed star symbolizing the heart’s lotus is used whereas in Andhra Pradesh it’s an eight-petalled lotus with geometric patterns. In Maharashtra too the lotus of 8petals is a recurring motif, with conch shells, fish, trees, and salvers being the other popular shapes used. But Gujarat takes first place here with an unrivalled 1001 varieties of the lotus drawn in in the Diwali Rangoli. Swastikas, creepers, footprints, squares and circles, and conch shells are other common motifs used.
Normally, first dots are made with the white Rangoli pattern, and then lines are drawn connecting them. The curves come last. The shapes are filled in with colours last. The borders and outlines remain white and are easily distinguishable.
Traditionally, the raw material for the rangoli powder is made from rice, flour, pulses and (more…)