Kolam the Flour Decoration in India

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It is a common sight in Hindu quarters of town and villages to find young maidens in pretty costumes and with cheerful faces engaged every morning soon after sunrise, in drawing designs called Kolam in Hindu Tamil phraseology, on the floor in front of each and every one of the houses all along the street, scattering deftly pinches of a white powder.

Formed all along the street on either side under the well trained hands of Hindu maidens, they indeed present a sight at once unique and admirable to a foreigner anxious to learn the manners and customs of the people of the country of his sojourn; nor are they without any interest to one even if he be not a foreigner if he is but aesthetically inclined.

Such artistic designs undoubtedly signify the aesthetic taste of the Hindus. The use of pulverized grain for the purpose, besides a religious importance, has its own moral purpose to serve- to wit kindness to inferior insects. Again this long standing custom gives the requisite training in free hand drawing to the young maidens and thus it has also an educative value.These floor designs drawn daily, commonly at the entrance of every Hindu house, contain various devices and they are also connected with the prevalent ideas regarding the evil eye. In India there is a Tamil proverb which says, "If one can hide oneself under a small mat another can conceal himself under the kolam".

Some of the kolam designs are representations of chariots drawn by horses, elephants or bullocks. A few of the designs represent tanks with lotus buds and full blown and half blown lotuses floating in the water. There are also designs representing individual animals like cows, horses, bulls with horns, elephants with tusks and so on. Birds like the peacock, and portions of the buildings with steps, are also represented by some of the designs formed.During ancient Hindu times, people used rice flour decorative to form the designs and thus fed myriads of ants everyday which would otherwise get into undesirable places in the house, and prove very troublesome. To start the business of a day with the sacrifice is the Hindu motto. What other better mode of sacrifice could be suggested than this?

In Indian Hindu tradition it is expected that every women needs to rise from her bed in the morning and the first and foremost duty she has to do is to sweep the house entrance clean, sprinkle water to keep down the dust and decorate the place with kolam or artistic designs using pulverized rice. Having performed this, she goes inside the house to clean and wash the floors with fresh cow dung mixed with water, decorates them with kolam or designs formed of rice flour. Unfortunately, this custom is being followed nowadays in very few houses satisfactorily in the way in which it has to be done.

Many traditional women in India finish their kolam business in a few seconds while those in ancient days had to spend hours in this interesting occupation! To conclude, even as the gramophone has deprived the people to some extent at least of the real pleasure of hearing music, this system of floor decoration followed now has also lost its original aim and pleasure derived from it.

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The author Mr. Sujoy is the owner of the Collectibles Hub. The Collectibles Hub prides itself in providing hand made oil paintings on canvas by over 30 artists. We have just launched our art work on Facebook. We provide good quality art in styles ranging from classical to contemporary, realistic, impressionistic, and abstract.

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