Muggulu making is hidden in concrete jungle but still exists in Hyderabad

Ahead of Sankranthi, TNIE looks at the art of Muggulu making and the myth that it is is slowly fading away as an art.

Published: 13th January 2021 07:47 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th January 2021 07:47 AM   |  A+A-


Representational image (Photo| EPS)

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: "We do see fewer muggulu in front of houses due to our busy lifestyle. Earlier, people used to get at least a week off during Sankranthi which would allow them to take part in the festivities in full spirit. With only two days now, people mostly like to meet their relatives, have good food and relax. However, most families do make muggu during this festival.

In my house, my mother and I have been making them. I search for designs online and we take turns to make designs with rice flour and fill them with colours. Another factor that comes into play here is the lack of space. We only have a ramp in front of our house which is not very suitable to put rangoli on. The space on the narrow road in front of our house is vied for by houses from both sides of the street.

That is why, we have to compromise on the size and designs of our rangolis. During my childhood, I would visit my maternal grandparents’ house in Mahbubnagar district and enjoy with my entire family. Abundant open spaces there ensured that there were many colourful muggu around."

— Dr Siri Challa, dancer and influencer

Old customs are dying

"People from Telangana usually do not celebrate Sankranthi in a big way. All we do is put muggu and make sweets and savouries. I love the Sakinalu my mother makes. My neighbours too send different varieties of festival delicacies to our house. My memories of the festival date back to my school where we used to have intra-house rangoli competition. They were conducted in my college too. The part I enjoy the most is 'Gangiredhullaata'.

On Kanuma, our cousins come to my place and we enjoy different varieties of non-vegetarian dishes. The present generation is not enjoying what we experienced during our  childhood. Even if we want to try and make them have those experiences, they find them funny and say it is not their thing. This is neither their fault nor ours. The modern, fast lifestyle is contributing to the sidelining of customs."

 — Sindhu Katike, actor

Change in size and pattern

"When I was a child, I would hear the cry of an old woman selling 'muggu flour', which was dry rice flour. Dotted kollams would be a sight to admire on morning walks - their intricate nature and mathematical precision drawn purely by the eye and feel. My mother was so obsessed with the designs that she still recollects ones seen in her native town when she was a child.

As she grew older, she would think up and draw various designs, and I have reams of papers and books on them. Though a homebody, she would go around a few neighbouring streets at the crack of dawn to 'spy' on rangolis drawn in front of other houses. With failing eyesight, her trips have stopped, and so have her muggu drawing.

Over time, with women participating in the workforce, muggulu became smaller or have stopped altogether. Since it is still seen as a sign of welcoming prosperity, some houses pay their house helps to draw it, but the designs are hurried and out of rote, unlike the commitment of the lady of the house.

Migration to multi-storey buildings has made the rangolis a five-inch design in front of flats, and if anyone drew them at the entrance of their buildings, the increased footfall wipes them out in a jiffy. However, yearly muggu making competitions are organised during certain seasons. I see this art dying out in metro cities over the next generation, but as long as there are villages and towns where this is still a thriving form of art, it will still trickle into our major cities."

— Vinoth Jeyaraj, wealth management professional

The tradition is not lost

"I do not think the art of muggu making is disappearing, but yes, we do see less of them now. We follow the ritual of making muggu in front of the threshold every day. In fact, all my neighbours follow it. A family member or the domestic help puts a simple chalk one daily. On Sankranthi, we make elaborate ones with colours. The apartment watchman’s wife is very skilled in this, and she makes beautiful ones in front of the main gate during festivals.

This tradition followed in south India - called kollam in Tamil and muggu in Telugu - is rooted in our culture. A muggu in front of the threshold signifies cleanliness. My grandfather used to say that if we make rice flour rangoli at the entrance, then ants (or other insects) would eat the flour and remain there, keeping the house free from pests.

However, I see people putting turmeric powder and kumkum in their rangolis, which is wrong as per tradition. Turmeric powder and kumkum are sacred for us, and if we  use them to colour the muggu, someone might step on it. We use these two substances to anoint our thresholds only. That is why, we are told never to step on the thresholds."

 — Radha Krishnaveni, executive producer, digital films and websites


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