Kolam South India

Drawing With Sand

Colorful sand sold for making your own kolam.

During my trip to South India I notice sand drawings on the ground. I  will later understand they are called kolams.  A kolam are designs created by women for the entrance to their home. Kolams can also be called Rangoli which is in the northern parts of India. The first step for making your kolam is to wake up with the sun, then, sweep the entrance to your home and splash water to clean off dust and debris. Now you are ready to take white rice powder that looks similar to a chalk like sand and create your geometric pattern using dots and then lines wrap around the dots. During the day bugs or ants might happen along and eat the rice powder or the pattern is brushed away for all kinds of reasons you might imagine. Traditionally, these geometric patterns are a way to pass down mathematical theory from mother to daughter. In Pondicherry I saw elaborate kolams in celebration for the holiday called Pongal that are in color. In smaller towns I saw the white sand drawings. Which do I love more? I love the simple black and white kolam because it is like similar to a black and white linocut print where the line is the most important. Although, I love the color rangoli also because when I think about India and my life changing trip I am reminded of color that is integrated and part of everyday life. Maybe we need both to appreciate each other. As the sand drawings are swept aside to memories, the kolam disappears with the daylight hours just as the fleeting days of our lives are collected. In the morning the ritual begins and this brings a fresh start for the day. New memories made.

Drawing with sand




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