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Rangavali or Rangoli is an ancient folk art practiced in India. This ephemeral art created on the floor is one of the important aspects of Indian Culture and is a manifestation of the beliefs and customs of the groups of population living in different parts of the country. In its lines and dots, in its flow of curves and colours, Rangolis contain a whole vocabulary of Philosophy, Values, Ethics and Beliefs that have manifested themselves in a visual form, making the communication of those thoughts as widespread as possible.
Rangoli art is a storehouse of symbols. The symbolism of the various motifs and designs employed in this art are the links in an unbroken chain of philosophic and religious thought, which is an integral part of the ethos of the sub-continent. This art is one of the important intangible cultural heritages and a living tradition of the country.
The study of various direct and indirect sources effectively shows that Rangavali existed in the country for more than two thousand years. The art has remained in the folk memory and its everyday manifestation has preserved its continuity. The women of India have kept this art alive by passing the expertise down through the generations.
Every region in India has its own name for Rangoli like - Aipan in the Himalayan region, Chowkpurana and Sanjhi in Uttar Pradesh, Mandana in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, Aripana in Bihar, Alpana in Bengal, Chita or Osa in Orissa, Sathiya in Gujarat, Muggu in Andhra Pradesh, Rangavali in Karnataka, Kolam in Tamilnadu, Puvidal in Kerala, and so on…….Infact the word Rangoli is a synonym for any kind of ephemeral Indian floor art.
In India, besides the Hindus, the Jains and the Parsis too have a very ancient tradition of making rangolis. As modernization is seeping in to our culture, we are slowly losing touch with our traditional customs and rituals. It has indeed become difficult to follow the routine religiously due to lack of time, space or interest. With this fast pace of life that we are adapting to, maintaining religious standards is becoming difficult. With the disintegration of the system of values in which the Rangavalis flourished, the Rangavalis are slowly losing their original meaning. Also with the changing circumstances, many traditional symbols are getting lost forever. Thus there is an urgent need for the documentation, preservation and development of this art.
The Folk and Tribal Art section of the INHCRF has initiated an effort to document and preserve this art before it vanishes completely. Dr. Nayana Tadvalkar who has earned a Ph.D. in the subject and is an Honorary Fellow with the INHCRF is leading this project. The project aims at creating a holistic database of the Rangoli art which will be made available to students, researchers and scholars interested in the subject.
Those interested in making a contribution towards the project in terms of providing designs and information may contact Dr. Nayana Tadvalkar on
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