If you take a walk in any residential neighbourhood in South India in the early morning or at sunset on festival days, you’ll see women drawing beautiful and intricate patterns on their front doorsteps. These patterns are called kolam in Tamil Nadu, rangavalli in Karnataka, muggulu in Andhra pradesh, pookalam in Kerala, and rangoli in many parts of North India.
Drawing the kolam is a woman’s task. After carefully sweeping and washing her front doorstep with water, she draws the kolam using rice powder. The designs are bigger and more intricate on festival days and sometimes colours are added.
Kolam are not only decorative, they also have a spiritual significance. It is like a ‘welcome mat’ welcoming you to the family home. One woman explained to me that it “helps the gods find the way inside”, especially Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity.
Above I have prepared a slideshow of some of the different kolams I've photographed in South India.