If you walk through the streets of Tamil Nadu villages in South India early in the morning, you can enjoy the art works of the Tamil women along with other enjoyments of nature! Nowhere in the world you can find such wonderful display of artwork at such an early time! Before the sun rises in the east these Tamil women get up and adorn the thresholds of their houses with artistic dot and line drawings, which are called “Kolam.”
There is no limit and restriction for these dot and line drawings. Imagination is the only promoter. Just draw lines joining the dots in an aesthetic symmetrical order. They can be drawn straight or curved provided they give some good appearance at the end. Lines can be drawn around the dots also.
USES OF KOLAM
Makes women healthy:
Early to bed and early to rise makes one healthy and more active. Getting up early, bringing water from the well or a water source, mixing cow dung in the water, sprinkling the water in front of the main entrance of the house and then drawing these kolam designs on the wet land needs real hard work and good heart!
Challenges the creativity of women:
Drawing kolam is the privilege of women. All the women of the village are busy with these drawings. First drop rice powder or the powder used for kolam in dots and then they are joined with lines. Each one will have her own design. All dots and lines in good patterns. From simple three dotted line drawings to complicated large designs! During festivals and special occasions different colors are given to these drawings!
It gives a brisk and fresh feeling after the night slumber. The fingers especially the forefinger and the thumb get good exercise. Morning activities in this drawing enables a woman improve her body systems. It is an exercise of concentration early in the morning.
Gives an elated feeling of beauty:
To look at these drawings gives pleasure to the women who draw them- a feeling of achievement. When the men folk of the house come out of their houses they are much delighted to see these designs. It pleases others who come to their house or pass by that way.
An expression of self- confidence:
“Kolam is an expression of a woman’s self-confidence,” says the famous champion of women development and a veteran novelist Rajam Krishnan. It is the first step of the Indian woman facing the millions of problems of the patriarchal society of India!
PURPOSE OF KOLAM
It is a welcome to the Goddess of wealth.
The drawing in front of the house is a warm welcome to Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth. It creates an optimistic outlook on life. The powder used in kolam is rice, brick or even turmeric powder.
It is a gesture of hospitality. Rice being the main food in South India, it is displayed as an offering at the threshold. Also it is offered t the insects and living beings like ants and birds that may come to the house. For the Tamils hospitality is a great virtue.
It is an application of antibiotics. Cow dung has antiseptic properties and hence serves as a natural protector of health. The air that comes inside the house is purified by the cow dung. In a way it is a symbol of preventing the evil spirits.
It is a ritual symbol of fertility. When people get married, the ritual kolam patterns created for the occasion can stretch all the way down the street. It is a matter of pride for a girl to learn the art of kolam. A lot of patterns are often passed on generation to generation, mother to daughter.
Drawing kolam is an acquired skill. It needs devoted interest and constant practice even though it may seem to be simple.
KOLAM: A FIELD OF RESEARCH
Recently, the art of drawing kolam has become a subject of researches, dealing with its various aspects. It has attracted the attention of research people all over the world. Dr. S.Naranan, a great physicist, has built a new hierarchy of kolam patterns, making use of a mathematical formula. He tries to prove the functioning of the Fibonacci series through the kolam patterns.