During Diwali, Goddess Lakshmi is believed to visit homes that are well
lit, so families decorate their homes. People wear their best clothes or buy
new ones, children are given presents and new year greetings are exchanged
through visits or Diwali cards. Thus, a Rangoli design is created on
doorsteps to welcome everybody. Rangoli exudes a pattern in color that are
specific for each region.
During Diwali, in the art of floor painting, the central rangoli design is
the symbolic one denoting the deity or the theme. Motifs generally created
are lotus, fish, birds, snakes etc. which reflects the unity of man and
beast. Most of the rangoli designs are circular exuding a sense of
endlessness of time. Celestial symbols such as the sun, moon and other
zodiac signs are also common themes for rangoli. Layered with symbolism is
the lotus denoting Goddess Lakshmi, the unfolding of life, the
heart or the wheel
During Diwali, two interfaced triangles are created that indicates the
deity of learning, Sarswati. Encircling this is a 24-petal lotus flower
border, the outer circle being decorated with Lakshmi's footprints repeated
in four corners. Sometimes the lotus petals are made in a triangular shape
for variety. In north Bihar, Lakshmi's feet are drawn at the door, the toes
pointing inwards to indicate her entrance.
Again in Andhra Pradesh there is an eight-petal lotus (ashtadal
and many geometric patterns forming the lotus. In Tamil Nadu
the hridaya kamalam
is an eight-pointed star meaning lotus
of the heart. In Maharasthra too the lotus is a basic motif and designs like
shankh kamal - shell lotus
which means salver is in the shape of an eight-petal lotus with straight
lines elaborated with curving lines to give it the appearance of a salver.
In Gujarat alone there are said to be 1001 variations of the lotus which are
drawn during Diwali, the festival when Goddess Lakshmi is worshiped. Other
motifs are swastikas and conch shells.
All over the southern part of India the diwali festival is marked by gaiety
and prosperity. The rangolis drawn are peripheral. Most Rangolis are
basically geometric patterns formed with dots and lines to make squares,
circles, swastikas, lotus, trident, fish, conch shell footprints, creepers,
bear testimony both to individual genius and community
participation and many work for days together on single design.
The raw materials mainly used to make rangoli are edibles like rice flour,
pulse and leaves. All over India, floor paintings are essentially white in
color. White is a symbol of peace, purity and tranquility. The material used
is rice flour or rice paste, because rice to all Indians is a sign of
prosperity. Yet another symbol of prosperity is the color yellow. Turmeric
yellow or ocher is also often used to fill in the white outlines. More often
however, vermilion is used. Vermilion
, is considered
auspicious. Also used are pea green and rust brown.