The ritual of the beautiful rangoli

One can’t help watching one’s step while walking on Bangalore’s streets and pavements, for one could trip over a protruding stone, slip over dung or disappear into a drain, exposed by a missin

Published: 27th March 2012 05:48 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 09:46 PM   |  A+A-

27ran01

(Express News Photo)

One can’t help watching one’s step while walking on Bangalore’s streets and pavements, for one could trip over a protruding stone, slip over dung or disappear into a drain, exposed by a missing pavement slab.

But one would also risk treading on some beautiful and sacred works of art on the pavements and roads of Bangalore’s residential areas.

Every morning, one can see women of each house on the street sweeping and watering their front yards and then drawing artistic patterns deftly, creating rangolis to usher in the day.

The lady grabs a pinch of the rangoli powder from a small tin and with swift movement of the hands produces perfect geometric designs combining arrow straight lines and perfect circles.

In villages around Bangalore, people still wash the front of their homes and spread cow dung evenly like cement and draw these designs as the surface dries up.

The rangoli powder is generally a white pulverised mineral.

The daily drawings are generally white but on certain occasions, the women mix vermillion or turmeric powder to the white powder to achieve the desired colour.

The powder is either bought from vendors who walk the streets carrying the ware in rattan baskets or from hawkers who squat with mounds of the article on the pavements.

Today, not only is the powder getting scarce but the new woman is less proficient in drawing with it and hasn’t the time at her disposal to fit in this rangoli ritual into her working day.

Hence, most women seem to be turning to the white chalk to scribble the day’s rangoli.

After the front porch is swept and washed, the end of the chalk is moistened and the pattern is drawn.

The design, which is invisible for a while, gradually emerges as the ground and the chalk dry.

Others have gone further and painted a permanent rangoli design with white synthetic enamel, which is touched up periodically as it gets smudged.

And with the advent of apartments, the rangoli has managed to survive, though in a different manifestation.

Since the doors of the apartments open directly into the corridors, the rangoli powder and chalk have little chance of survival.

Households now have a vast choice of plastic rangoli stickers with diverse designs that they stick in front of their doors.

The city’s skyline is changing but still retains its beauty on the ground.

— vijaysimha@ newindianexpress.com

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