Artful Beginnings

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Starting everyday with a creative activity can keep you cheerful, sharp, and happy throughout the day.  Making kolams every morning is a part of sattvic routine for many Hindus, usually women. The routine is brisk and does not take more than ten to fifteen minutes on regular days. After a quick sweep of the surroundings, sprinkle water to settle the dust, and start decorating the doorstep with white rice powder. The designs, squiggles, and lines are all drawn freehand. Some kolams are dot matrix, that aid in perfecting the symmetry, lines, and designs. These shapes and designs can be filled with colors.

Whatever be the shape, size, and complexity of kolams, they all share some common properties. A well-made kolam is symmetrical. They also have repeating patterns that make a kolam attractive. Seasonal and locally relevant motifs are artistically incorporated into kolam providing meaning expression to the creator.

Living Sattva proudly profiles the kolam art by Ma Geetha Krishnamoorthy. The featured Kolams are made during the month of Marghazi or Danur masam in traditional calendars. To celebrate this month, Geetha made elaborate kolams every morning. It took her about an hour or 45 minutes to create the work of art every morning. Every kolam is original and hand drawn. Geetha learned to make kolam at a young age from her mother, aunt, elder sisters, friends, and eventually started to add her own elements . 

Kolam artists are not formally trained. They learn the art by watching others make kolam and practicing. To practice making kolam, try various styles- lines, squiggles, or dot matrix. Pick one style that you are comfortable to start your practice. Start indoors on a smooth, dark surface, wooden plank or wooden floor. The best place to start your practice is in your personal altar. Watch out for upcoming post on establishing a personal altar.

With practice art design becomes stronger, not tentative or shaky and complex designs become possible. Artistic expression allows the creator to introduce elements that have personal meaning in the art. Making kolam everyday relaxes the person who creates. If you have no time in the morning, you can make the kolam at evening or night. You can also start off by making small kolams for celebrations or festivals. You can also make kolams on particular day of the week, for example, Tuesday or Fridays.

Kolams can be made with dry rice flour or wet rice flour. People also make them with chalk powder or chalk. When kolams are made with rice flour, small creatures such as ants and birds also eat rice flour as food. It is also environmentally friendly and completely biodegradable. It is also very easy to make your rice flour with handful of rice in a coffee blender. Rice flour has to be

Every Kolam art carries a personal message or meaning. Some geometric designs are considered sacred and traditionally made during festivals. Such kolams are not walked over.  People walk around them. They are bordered with auspicious colors such as yellow and red.

If you have never tried making kolam, this is a good opportunity to start testing out some. For people looking to develop new traditions, here is a rewarding, creative practice. Try Kolams if you like doodling or like to make to patterns. Get creative and be joyful!