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  • Writer's pictureRaghu Lakshminaarayanan

Significance of Kolams In Indian Weddings

Kolam or Rangoli is specific to Indian culture and an intrinsic part of daily life, signifying positivity, prosperity and good vibes. For people in South India the day literally begins with the drawing of the kolams at their doorsteps.

Kolams are nothing but drawings of geometric patterns using rice flour. Kolams can be drawn with limestone powder too. But Rice flour is considered auspicious. Kolams can be drawn with dry and wet rice flour. In every South Indian wedding it is the kolam that gives the auspicious start to the proceedings.

Generally wedding caterers take the responsibility the wedding caterer has to be aware of the significance of each type or pattern. Even as we plan a wedding, we understand the details from the client regarding their sub sect. For example, in Tamil Nādu Iyers follow a certain pattern and Iyengars follow a certain pattern. While straight lines are to be used for Iyers, arched or wavy lines are to be used for Iyengars.

The borders or edges of the kolams are usually adorned by a red paste called ‘Kaavi’ which is basically brick powder mixed to a smooth paste with water. It gives a beautiful contrast to the white rice flour patterns. Again, some sects of the Iyengars do not use Kaavi in their kolams. The wedding caterer needs to be aware of these details from the client prior to the event or wedding. Podi Kolams (those drawn with dry rice four) are drawn after cleaning the floor with water and this helps in its retention for a longer period of time. On the contrary a clean, dry floor is a must to draw kolams with wet flour. Some kolams are drawn after placing a certain number of dots and interconnecting them to form a pattern.

Wedding planning industry has undergone changes but the tradition of drawing kolams will continue forever no doubt. With stage décor acquiring new dimensions we now have carpets on the stage to give a sleek and elegant look. So, drawing kolams with dry powder is the only option in case of carpeted stage. And there is no question of using ‘Kaavi’ here. In most hotels drawing kolams is next to impossible with the numerous restrictions imposed by them for fear of damage to their property

Many mandapams and hotels opt for marble flooring in light colours. So, Kaavi is a definite NO in these places. So, one has to compromise on these things. Plus, with a light-coloured marble flooring the beauty of the kolam gets completely lost since they are hardly visible.

In some regions there are special requests for ‘Rettai Manai Kolam’ which refers to the joining of two kolams. The word kolam has lent itself to other mediums too. Poo Kolam or kolam drawn with a variety of flowers is very famous in Kerala and has now found its place in the rest of India.

Rangoli is also a form of kolam. It is drawn with coloured powder of various hues and several intricate designs can be drawn with great ease. While Kolam is more of lines, dots and geometric patterns, Rangoli sticks to drawing images of God or anything associated with God or religion.

Kolams are also accessorised nowadays with lamps, candles & other props to add aesthetic value and a new perspective. There are also several unwritten rules while drawing kolams – in certain places a single kolam should not be drawn; it is always mandatory to draw kolam below the seat of the bride and groom and at other places where rituals are to be performed.

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