Harvesting new gender roles

Burning ancient misogynistic ideas to ring in egalitarianism, city-based men have turned keepers of kolams — redesigning social roles one dot at a time

Published: 15th January 2020 06:36 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th January 2020 06:36 AM   |  A+A-

The Srinivasan family decide on the kolam design for the day, the previous night  Ashwin Prasath

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Every morning, 72-year-old TR Srinivasan and his sons — Santosh Srinivasan and Vignesh Srinivasan — have a ritual like none other. They sweep the thresholds of their Nanganallur residence, trickle some rice powder in a stream between their middle and index fingers, using their thumbs to guide the flow of the powder. On this weekday morning, we are the lucky ones to marvel at this discipline of the Srinivasan family. 

The kolam-drawing ritual has always been considered a woman’s prerogative. But not in this house where the three male members decide on the design the previous night. Each morning, they spend half-an-hour drawing kolam, before their office hours set in.

The Srinivasan men started drawing kolams, on a daily basis, ten years ago when Srinivasan’s wife moved to Chennai with their elder son, Santosh. “We used to live in Tiruchy. When my wife came to Chennai, we felt that the entrance to our house looked dull. Since my sons had already learned the art of drawing kolams from their mother when they were young, I thought of learning the art too,” says Srinivasan who also learned from his wife Yogambal Mahalingam. Adding, Vignesh says, “Initially, we would sit along with her and help colour the kolam. Then we began drawing small designs. Now we can draw huge ones.” Santosh recalls that drawing kolams at their house in Tiruchy was fun as the space outside their house was big enough to let them get creative. 

“There was always an unofficial competition in the village about whose kolam was better... even more so during the festive season. People would often appreciate our designs,” he says.
The love for kolams has now been passed on to the third generation where Vignesh’s two-year-old daughter Sai Suviksha Vignesh has already started helping them by colouring the designs the men make.

Petal power 

Draw 7X4 dots. From the middle dot, draw a petal in six directions. This petal has to be a connection between the middle and fourth dot on each side. In between each petal, draw another petal. This petal has to be drawn from the middle dot and third dot. Draw vertical lines on both sides of each petal to create a triangle. Do this on all sides. From where you left the triangle, draw diamonds connecting the remaining dots. Do this on all sides.

Now, draw semi-circles between the petals and the diamonds on all six sides. Once you’ve drawn these semi-circles, from each side of the semi-circle draw a petal to connect the last dot. Do this on six sides. Once you’ve done all this, use colours of your choice to fill and make it colourful.

Floral affair 

raw a 15X8 dots structure; start by drawing 15 dots and go on till it reaches eight on each side. The completed dots will look like a hexagon. Then draw a curve in the last dot and penultimate dot that will become the stem of the rose. From the top edge of the stem, connect three dots with a straight line and the bottom three dots with another straight line. Connect these lines to look like a parallelogram. Do this on both sides and you will get the leaves of a single rose. From the centre dot of each leaf and the top of the stem, draw three straight lines upwards and connect them to form an oval. To draw the outer petal, connect all the adjacent dots with two curved lines joining the centre of the oval. Above that, draw an arc. Repeat this for all the flowers. Now, colour these roses as you wish.

The Srinivasan men started drawing kolams, on a daily basis, ten years ago 


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp