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Kolam Kolam Kolam

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WHAT IS KOLAM? _____________________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _________________________________________ _________________________________________ ____________________________ 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 23 3 4 5 6





POPULAR KOLAM MEDIUMS _______________________________________________ RANGOLI IN NORTHERN INDIA IN OTHER STATES OF INDIA! _________________________________________ _________________________________________

WHY IS KOLAM IMPORTANT FOR R VAISHNAVAS? ______________________ DISCIPLINING OUR DAILY LIFE ! NATURE & DAILY LIFE ! GIFT FROM THE COW ! _________________________________________

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We all love artwork in some form or another, be it simple drawings, paintings or sculptures. Innumerable complex designs and patterns can be formed using nothing more than just lines and dots. Smooth curved lines can be entwined around each other and around dots; straight lines could be crisscrossing each other or it could be a mix of both. When such patterns are drawn on the ground using rice flour, it is called kolam.

Kolam is an ancient form of South Indian motif art.

Kolams are geometrical patterns created in a methodical manner. Symmetry in nature is common. Petals on a flower are arranged in symmetry, so are leaves on a plant. Similarly, traditional kolams are symmetrical giving it a disciplined beauty. A series of dots are laid as a grid; then, lines interlace, loop in and loop out between these dots to form patterns. Modern day kolam artists also use
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a lot of free-hand drawing of designs, flowers, birds, animal sceneries and plants, which are equally attractive. 3


Kolam is drawn by the women of the house to decorate the front of the house giving it a welcoming and festive appearance. Kolams also adorn the prayer or the pooja room. The thresholds of the house are decorated by kolams to remember that it is the seat of Lord r Narasimha .

Kolams drawn everyday may be simple and small but traditionally, should be drawn both in the morning and in the evening. While elaborate Kolams are drawn for festivals and celebrations. On r Jayanthi (Janmashtami) or r Krishnas birthday, the house is decorated with dainty little footprints to guide r Krishnas visit to the kitchen from the front door, guiding infant Krishna to the place where all the snacks and goodies specially cooked for him are displayed.
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The month of Marghazhi is most important month to r Vaishnavas. One day for Devas is when they pray to Sriman Nryaa. Thus this is a very special time for us Manushyas or earth beings. Sri Andal sung the beautiful Thirupaavai pasuram during this month to attain Sriman Narayan. She would wake up early, take bath, dress up, put kolam in her house and collect her friends and jointly sing the glory of Sriman Nryaa. Every Vaishnava temple in India have great festivity and utsavams celebrated during this One year for us. And the month of Marghazhi is the morning time for the Devas and this is

month. Woman compete with each other to put the best kolam in their threshold and front yard. The month of marghazhi is the most festive months of all. Lord Krishna Himself said in Bhagavat Gita, Among the months, I am Marghazhi. Meaning as

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Marghazhi was the best month of all months. He was like the month Marghazhi.
Marghazhi month falls between Dec 16 to Jan 14.


There are a number of legends associated with the origin of kolam in India. The earliest mention in regard to this art form is found in the writings on India art called Chitralakshana.
Long ago, in a kingdom, a high priest's son died unexpectedly early. The priest became so miserable that he forgot to participate in the kingdoms matters. With the people request, the king undertook heavy penance to win Lord Brahmas favor, so he can help his high priest. Moved by the kings prayers and knowing the purpose of the penance, Lord Brahma appeared before the king and asked him to do a kolam or rangoli of the boy on the ground. The King did as he was told. Thereafter, Lord Brahma breathed life into the kolam and thus the high priests son came back alive. That was believed to be the first kolam drawn by some school of thought. Another legend says that Lord Krishna in one of his artistic mood, used mango juice to paint a beautiful woman. The woman was so magnificent that it put the apsaras or heavenly maidens to shame. Thereafter, Gopikas adopted Rangoli to express their artistic needs.
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Chola rulers gave great patronage to the practice of Kolam. It is also said that rice powder or fine sand was used in combination with colors. 6


For ages and beyond the front yard & the threshold of houses in Southern India has been decorated by kolams. It is a tradition that has been in practice for 1000s of years. Old historical resources like the Vedas and Divya Prabandhams and literatures have mentioned kolams, making it an ageless practice. One place where kolams will never loose their importance is in the temples and in the streets around temples. In these places, the presiding deity comes out to the streets in pompous processions. Even today to welcome dear Lord, people sweep the streets, sprinkle water to pack the loose dirt and then draw elaborate kolams on dirt or tar roads. Ladies from every household jointly decorates the streets and their front yard for such ocassions.
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We know that kolams originated before we had concrete or tiled floors. In olden days houses were built of mud mixed with straw and floors both inside and the yard were packed by dirt. The dirt floor was prepared in a certain way before drawing kolam. First the front and backyard was swept clean to remove loose dust and litter. Next raw wet cow-dung is spread on the dirt floor in a thin layer. After the floor dries it becomes stiff and flat. Kolams are then drawn using white rice flour on this dark green floor. This vivid design pop out to the eye. Since dried cow dung has anti-septic properties, it also prevents germs and other insects from infesting the house. Even if water is spilled in such floor, it would not make the dung mushy, like fresh dung. It would simply soak the water and soon dry up. If the dung floor is really packed tight and stiff, women also use rice paste to make the kolam semi-permanent. The floors look beautiful with the motifs until it is time to repack the floor with another treatment of cow dung spread.
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Today, we do not have to do all that hard work, we simply sprinkle the floor with some water and draw the Kolam with dry kolam powder. We need the moisture so the powder sticks to the floor. 8


Kolams were traditionally drawn using dried rice flour or ground rice paste only. But lately different mediums are being used to draw kolams. Now-a-days we see that the rice flour kolams are just limited to the pooja rooms. People prefer to use limestone powder and red clay powder or kavi for their front yard. The limestone powder,

because of its grainy texture is easier to dribble and create smooth designs.

On special occasions and festivities, diluted rice flour paste is used to paint patterns on the floor.

For an interesting contrast, diluted terracotta-red clay and white kolam powder are used on special days for a festive look.
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The word rangoli originated from the Sanskrit word rang which means color and aavalli meaning rows or creepers. Together the words signify a row of colors woven into patterns.
In the northern Indian villages women still compact their walls and floors with cow dung and clay mixture. They decorate the stark walls and floors with elaborate designs of nature and village life. Their medium of this kind of art is rice paste, white, red and yellow clay. The influence of rangoli an art of colorful kolam of north India has largely influenced the southern belle. We can see a lot of colorful kolams created using the rangoli powder or colored limestone powder.

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Rangoli is believed to have originated in the state of Maharashtra and spread to Gujarat & Karnataka . But every part of India has the tradition of Rangoli but are known by different names, Mandana in Rajasthan, Chowk purana in Uttar Pradesh, Aripana in Bihar, Alpana in Bengal, and Muggu in Andhra Pradesh.

Traditional Rangoli also used natural dyes like tree bark, leaves, dried sawdust, flower petals, turmeric powder, grains, pulses, lentils, etc.

Rangoli in Kerala famously known as pookalam. Pookalams are laid out on festive occasion like Onam and Dashera celebrations. This is rangoli
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made using freshly picked flowers and leaves of different kinds. 11


Lakshmi Blessing : When you do something special or difficult, you want your parents or people close to you notice it and appreciate it. Sometimes we want to show off so bad that we go to our mother and tell her hoping she would recommend to our father for our good behavior. Similarly, Godess Lakshmi (or Piratti) who is mother to all of us, always notices our good behavior and recommends us to Sriman Nryaa. Piratti blesses us with various things in our life for our happiness. She loves to see you enjoy what she has blessed you with. She loves a house that has been beautifully lit, swept clean and attractively decorated with kolams. She would bestow her karunyam or grace on such homes.

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Just as we brush our teeth everyday, some activities are part of a r Vaishnavas life. It is a daily practice of a r Vaishnava to take an early morning bath. To sweep and mop the front yard, threshold and put kolam to make your home welcoming to Goddess Lakshmi. To clean the floor of the house, kitchen, pooja room and then decorate all these places with rice flour kolams. After which, light oil lamps, with which you mark the official start of the household activities of the day. After the lamp is lit women proceed to cook food (prasadam) for the day. Any food partaken by us should be consumed only after offering to Perumal and Thayar.
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Harmonious Living: Sri Vaishnavas also believe in living harmoniously with the nature and other being. Every act of theirs is associated with a service to Lord Sriman Nryaa. Even though a kolam is a decoration, by using rice flour they are offering a constant supply of food to ants, insects, small birds and animals year around. A r Vaishnava by this act is caring for the helpless creatures that are part of Sriman Nryaas creation. Hygienic Living: The anti-septic properties of the cow dung used to prepare the floor for the kolam also ensures a pure and clean home. The cow dung mopped floor keeps the flies & germs from the living quarters. The cow dung also helps removing other displeasing odors. Many village outdoor kitchens, the floor, the wall, even the mud oven are compacted with cow dung paste.
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Cow is very sacred to r Vaishnavas. Every offering of cow is treated as a gift. Sri Vaishnavas do not consume any animal product except milk and milk products like butter, curd, cheese and crme. Apart from the milk, cows also give us cow dung. Even today rural India uses cow dung for two very important household uses.
1. Dried cow dung cakes are used as fuel for cooking. 2. Fresh diluted cow-dung has anti-septic properties and so is used for mopping and packing dirt floor.

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Today our lives have become so stationary that we women go to gyms seeking exercise. By following simple traditional practices, we will not only cultivate and preserve our rich and delightful tradition but also keep ourselves healthy and fit. Kolams are drawn first thing in the morning before sunrise or in the early hours of dawn. The science of yoga informs us that the early morning rays of sun carries medicianal value for our health. Thus making kolam a part of our waking up ritual is highly recommended. Sweeping the front porch and sprinkling some water, squatting or bending to draw the beautiful designs are physically demanding activities. It would give us our much needed exercise. Start your day by expressing your artistic talent. As a bonus, when we focus in silence on geometric and symmetric designs our mind achieves a meditative state that would make the rest of our
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days more pleasant.



1. Traditionally Kolams by r Vaishanavas were always drawn with a. chalk b. sand c. rice powder d. coal 2. Kolams are drawn with help of a. sticks b. graph paper c. dotted grid d. ruler 3. Before the kolam is drawn the dirt floor is packed using a. milk and yogurt b. honey glaze
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c. paint d. diluted cow dung water 17

4. What does the kolams NOT represent a. fighting bull b. birds c. animals d. designs 5. Krishnas foot print are drawn during from the front door to the kitchen where the snacks are displayed during a. Pongal b. r Jayanthi c. Deepavali d. Temple Procession 6. What is NOT a medium of kolam drawn in households a. rice floor b. kaavi
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c. rice paste d. pencil


7. Which one is NOT a medium of rangoli art drawn in walls and floors of North Indian homes? a. yellow & red clay b. white clay c. rice floor d. crayons 8. Rangoli is made using fresh picked flowers in Kerala, is called a. rangoli b. kolam c. pookalam d. drawing 9. What does the cow NOT give us a. Milk b. Butter
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c. Rangoli d. Dung


10. Cow dung is used for what purpose a. b. c. d. compact dirt floor build houses feed birds fill holes

11. Why Kolam is NOT important to r Vaishnavas a. b. c. d. To get Lakshmis blessing To be proud of their art To feed small creatures To mark the start of the day

12. What is a false statement about cow dung? a. b.

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Its an anti-septic cleanser and keeps dirt floor compacted It is a fuel used in household cooking It keeps odor and flies away. It makes the floor black

c. d.



Traditionally Kolams by r Vaishanavas were always drawn with { ( c) rice powder } Kolams are drawn with help of { ( c) dotted grid } Before the kolam is drawn the dirt floor is packed using {(d) diluted cow dung water } What does the kolams NOT represent { (a) fighting bull } Krishnas footprints are drawn from the front doorstep to the kitchen where the snacks are displayed during { (b) r Jayanthi or Janmashtami } What is NOT a medium of kolam drawn in households { (d) pencil } Which one is NOT a medium of rangoli art drawn in walls and floors of North Indian homes? { (d) crayons } Rangoli is made using fresh picked flowers in Kerala is called {( c) pookalam } What does the cow NOT give us {( c) Rangoli } Cow dung is used for what purpose {(a ) compact dirt floor } Why Kolam is NOT important to r Vaishnavas { (b )To be proud of their art }
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What is a false statement about cow dung? { (d) It makes the floor black} 21


Put the dot grids and then try to draw lines around it.

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