On my first day in Kumbakonam, the town where Chalice’s Tamil Site is based, my colleagues and I took an evening stroll through a residential neighborhood. I kept seeing chalk designs on the ground in front of the house’s doorway. Some simple, some more elaborate.
My colleague explained to me that this practice is called rangoli, or sometimes kolam. Residents, often women and girls, will draw fresh ones in the mornings and evenings in front of their homes. At times, such as on special occasions or during festivals, the designs will have specific means or honour specific deities. Sometimes they are just decorative and an opportunity to get creative.
One woman came out and offered to let us watch as she drew a fresh one for her home. Expecting a simple design like the ones I had seen before, I pulled out my camera, expecting to film the entire process in about a minute. But with a guest and a gathering audience, our artist drew an intricate design that took at least a quarter of an hour!
Throughout my travels in India, I was greeted with many beautiful and sophisticated rongoli designs.
Too bad in Canada, we tend to spend more time shoveling our front stoops than drawing in chalk!
— By Kate Mosher, Creative Specialist & Photographer at Chalice