Kolam ~ Rangoli ~ Welcome ~ Harmony

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Kolams are thought to bestow prosperity to homes. Every morning in Tamil Nadu, millions of women draw Kolams on the ground with white rice powder. Through the day, the drawings get walked on, rained out, or blown around in the wind; new ones are made the next day. Every morning before sunrise, the floor of the owners house, or where ever it may be, is cleaned with water and the muddy floor is swept well for an even surface. The Kolams are generally drawn while the surface is still damp so that it is held better. Many times cow-dung is also used to wax the floors. Cow dung is believed to have antiseptic properties and hence provides a literal threshold of protection for the home. It also provides contrast with the white powder.

Decoration was not the sole purpose of a Kolam. In olden days, Kolams used to be drawn in coarse rice flour, so that the ants don't have to walk that much for too long for a meal. The rice powder is said to invite birds and other small critters to eat it, thus inviting other beings into one's home and everyday life: a daily tribute to harmonious co-existence. It is a sign of invitation to welcome all into the home, not the least of whom is Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity. The patterns range between geometric and mathematical line drawings around a matrix of dots to free form art work and closed shapes

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolam

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