The festival of Diwali starts today, and Hindu communities throughout the world are setting up the celebrations. Celebrating the return of Rama after 14 years in exile to defeat the demon King Ravana, as depicted in the epic, Ramayana, the festivities include festivities include fireworks, treats, candles, oil lamps and, our focus here today, rangoli, or kolam, in Tamil, beautiful pieces of art that can be made of things like colored rice, dry flour, powder colored sand or even flower petals. Traditionally depicting the Hindu gods, they can also feature geometric and concentric shapes, flower motifs, peacock motifs or reflections of the family it represents. While traditionally made by women, men are allowed to make them as well, and they have.
“Rangoli is about culture and history,” said Mahesh Rao, who is trying to earn a Ph.D. in rangoli-making, in a released statement, according to Time, “I am attempting to preserve the traditional art as I do not want the youngsters to view rangoli only as a picture.”
You can also make your own rangoli (and there is no shame in using stencils!)