In India ‘Kolam‘ (muggu or rangoli) is one of the important traditional values in every home. It is related to auspiciousness, wellness and lot more.
Traditionally it is a practice to put kolams with rice flour (the reason behind it is to feed the ants, birds and other small creatures). However now people use different mediums like ‘kola podi‘(white rock powder) or ‘kolakkal‘ (white rock stone) or ‘semman’(red brick powder).
Whenever I recollect my memories about kolams in my home, there had always been one in the front of our house. Let it be the big front yard in my native or the small front space in our new house (where we later moved to, in the nearby city) mom ensures that there is always a kolam all the days, at least a simple one! Not just my mom, it’s a common practice in most Indian homes.
Now being in a city and leading a life in apartment, I don’t have much space or facilities for such kolams. A few steps out of my house, I’d land up in the opposite flat..! My mom suggested me to paste vinyl sticker (she doesn’t want me to struggle, besides handling the kid, home and other things..) and my MIL suggested to use chalk piece. But I was very hesitant to do both. Because, let it be my mom or my mother in law, they both have always nurtured good practices. Doesn’t matter how much time, effort or dedication it consumes, they just keep up those practices. Strictly no short cuts or work arounds..!! How much ever I do, it’s definitely going to be far less when compared to them.
Earlier when I was working I had never thought about kolams or never felt guilty for not doing that. Now that I’m a mother, I know that, what I do will reach my kid rather than what I teach. My mom and mother in law had carried few traditions up to us. Now it’s up to me whether I take it forward to the next generation or not. So, I decided to put kolams regularly (at least as much as possible.. You know, something is better than nothing 😉).
I tried various methods. White rock powder looked bright and visible. But that got easily smudged and brought more dust into the house.
Store bought rice flour (dissolved in water) was not so bright and it was really difficult to track while drawing as it was almost invisible when wet.
Rice flour paste (raw rice soaked in water and ground) was really so bright and I just loved it (because of the look and also the satisfaction that I’m following the traditional method). However, making rice flour every day was a painful job. Also it lead to more wastage (the left over flour gets spoiled within a day or two and even stinks badly).
So I came up with this easy solution to prepare and store the rice flour cakes.
- Take one cup of raw rice
- Soak it in water for 3-4 hours (You can also soak overnight)
- Drain the excess water and grind well in mixer to a smooth and thick paste.
- Now pour in a plate or shallow bowl and dry under the hot sun for half a day.Flip the cake upside down to ensure that both the sides are dried well.
- Now you get nice rice flour cake. Break them into many smaller pieces. And dry them again in hot sun for another 3-4 hours.
- And now you are done. Store them away from moisture and dust.
Dissolve required amount of this cake in water (to the desired consistency). And use it as usual to put your kolams. I use an ear bud or paint brush to draw the kolams.
You will get the same result as that of freshly ground rice flour paste..!!
So easy and quick. Isn’t?
Apart from ‘tradition’, kolam is all about geometric patterns, symmetry, curves, dots and connecting lines..!! It increases concentration, memory power and also a good exercise for mind and body. The art of drawing ‘mandalas‘ have their roots in Indian kolams and rangolis.