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Kolam - A South Indian Art Form

When you look at things a little closely you tend to realize there is so much more to the small things we do every day. Take art for instance. Isn't art everywhere? Well, of course like beauty, it lies in the eyes of the beholder but I am sure you can find art in many things around you/ in those things you do.

The tradition of drawing beautiful geometrical patterns using rice flour or chalk flour has been in practice in South Indian homes since ancient times. This art is called ‘Kolam’ and women draw this patterned art on the wet ground or porch outside their houses every morning and evening. It is more of a custom here down south. If only Da Vinci and Picasso had known of such a thing, they could have got more perception to their artwork.

Some of the patterns drawn are unbelievably complicated and such pain is taken during special festivals and occasions in India. ‘Pongal’, the harvest festival of Tamil Nadu sees Hindu women drawing up several amazing designs of ‘Kolam’ around their houses.

Here are some Kolam patterns that my sweet friend Shruthi sketched for me in like 10 minutes!!! I can’t help but admire her creativity and patience. 

Kolam - An art form less known outside India

Neli Kolam / Kolam with curves

Lamp Design

This one may look simple but when I saw her connect the dots in style, it was totally jaw-dropping

When I asked my grandma what the significance of drawing a Kolam was, she told me it feeds thousands of ants every day and it is a great exercise as one has to bend, twist and turn so as to get a perfect Kolam. She told me it signifies a welcome sign as it is drawn in front of the house to welcome guests who come home. So we do it for our well being and the well being of those little ants and insects that feed on the powder. That makes perfect sense.

Have you ever tried drawing a Kolam? Try out simple patterns and work your way up to the really cool ones. Google does help you with that too! :)


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