In Tamil Nadu, a kolam is a must to start anything auspicious whether it is big or small. The kolam can be seen even in the kitchen and on the cooking counter of some homes, which is ornamented daily with a few lines of kolam. A marriage venue, the temple precincts are areas of community gatherings and these are also decorated with kolams.
There are various types of kolams drawn during different occasions. Also there are infinite varieties in kolam designs. The kolams of each occasion vary from each other and are drawn with a different and a specific purpose. A few of the types are described below.
Documentation of a few of the different types of kolams:
Mrs. Raji Ramanan from New Delhi (an educator, and a Sanskrit scholar with a deep interest in Indian culture) has created a Nalvaravu kolam, a Hridayakamalam kolam and a daily Pulli kolam to demonstrate the making of a few of the types of kolam.
Through her growing years in Chennai, she mastered the art of creating kolams by observing her elders at various occasions and regular practice has honed her creative skills. She has a deep understanding of the importance of these kolams and their cultural significance. The acquired expertise in the sense of ratio, proportion, choice of design elements, and deftness of the fingers, the speed and precision of execution become evident as the kolam is being meticulously created.
The process of creation of a kolam also clearly indicates the deep belief one has in following these traditions and the way in which one has integrated them into the modern way of life and yet maintained their significance and importance. This is how these traditional practices of floor art get nurtured and get passed on from generation to generation.
The process of creating the above mentioned three types of kolams has been captured on video and also as stop animation films. Also at the end of each of the kolam creations, Mrs. Raji Ramanan, briefly explains the significance of each kolam, in a short video. The links to these are provided at the end of relevant kolam.
Significance of the documentation:
These videos and the stop animation films, capture the intricate process of the kolam creation exceedingly well. Each step, each nuance of the hand, deftness and the speed of execution, precision and accuracy at each stage are clearly visible while the kolam is being rendered during this documentation process.
It is this kind of a documentation that instils an accurate and in depth understanding of this floor art. Usually it is only those who practise this art or the persons witnessing this art being created on a daily basis or persons interested in learning this art are the ones who have a complete knowledge of the process. Kolam journals, new kolam design concepts in websites or blogs of the internet, magazines which have a section devoted to it usually are able to depict only images of the stage wise development of a kolam, but these do not do justice to the process of its creation.
With people moving away from villages and towns, in the city homes especially apartments, it becomes difficult to practise this art. In the name of modernisation, the rootedness which such a practice would bring is lost.
* Nalvaravu, (or welcoming kolams), indicates that a home is open to visitors and friends. They are especially used to welcome guests to a home or venues where celebrations are being held. This kolam uses the element lotus on the fringe ends of the kolam, which is a symbol of the sacred. Elements like the conch which has its genesis in water are also used. The lamp as an element is also used here. The lamp is dispeller of the darkness – propagates the belief of ASATOMA SADGAMAYA.
After the kolam is drawn it is bound by the red coloured kaavi. This defines the sacred place that has been prepared with all pure intention. The colour red of the kaavi is the colour of prosperity and aesthetically speaking it heightens the contrast of the kolam./
The following pictures show a Nalvaravu kolam being created by Mrs. Raji Ramanan.
1. A basic grid is drawn at the venue before the kolam is created.
2. After the central square the side squares are decorated.
3. The squares in the grid are filled with horizontal and vertical lines.
4. The squares are connected with curved lines.
5. The central square also gets connected to the side squares with a short set of lines.
6. More curved lines are built around the central pattern to develop the kolam.
7. More elements are added beyond the curved lines and to the periphery of the kolam.
8. The red kaavi is used to create a bold outline along the kolam exterior.
9. The red kaavi instantly heightens the look of the white kolam.
10. The completed kolam that waits to greet the guests at the venue.
The stop animation film and the videos of the above Nalvaravu kolam can be viewed from the links below: