Rangoli is an art in which patterns are created on the floor or the ground using materials such as colored rice, dry flour, colored sand or flower petals. It is usually made during special occasions such as Diwali, Onam, Pongal and other Hindu festivals in the Indian subcontinent. Designs of rangoli are passed from one generation to the next generation.
The objective of rangoli is to decorate our surroundings and it is considered to bring good luck. The types of design may also vary as they reflect traditions, folklore and practices that are unique to each area. Girls or women generally do it. Sometimes boys also take part. This practice is showcased during occasions such as festivals, marriage celebrations, auspicious observances and other similar milestones and gatherings.
Rangoli designs are simple geometric shapes, deity impressions, or flower and petal shapes but they are also large designs made by many people. The base material is usually dry or wet powdered rice or dry flour and other natural colours can be added. Other elements comprise colored sand, red brick powder and even flowers and petals, as in the case of flower rangolis.
There are two main ways to make a Rangoli, dry and wet. Using a white material like chalk, sand, paint or flour, the artist marks a center-point on the ground and cardinal points around it, usually in a square, hexagon or circle depending on area and personal preference.
Once the sketch is complete, the artist may choose to clarify it with colour, again using either wet or dry ingredients like paints, coloured rice-water, gypsum powder, coloured sand or dry pigments. The artist might also use materials like seeds, grains, spices, leaves or flower petals to achieve lifelike hues. Modern materials like crayons, dyes or dyed fabrics, acrylic paints and artificial colouring agents are also conventional in use, allowing for brilliant and vibrant colour choices. A newer but less artificial way involves using cement coloured with marble powder.
Shape, design and material are base on regional traditions. In North India, a square grid is standard as a hexagonal grid in South India; Onam Rangolis are generally circular. In North India, the colour is most often based on gypsum, in South India on rice flour and Onam Rangolis are typically flower based. Many people find it enjoyable to try and figure out how such complex designs are drawn with a grid.