“I put rice paste in a bowl, drawing dots up and down this is just an attempt to find the mad head boy and search for him up and down.” Folk Song
If you walk in the early morning along streets and alleys in the villages of South India, you will see women bent at the threshold of almost every home. In their hand will be a bowl of rice paste from which the women freehand geometric symbols in a clean unbroken line to sanctify and decorate their doorstep. These women have been up before dawn to prepare the sacred ground before the kolam is applied. First the area is swept clean and then a mixture of cow dung and water is laid on the ground. Cow dung is antiseptic in nature and as such is an essential part of the purpose of the kolam which is to provide a pure unpolluted canvas. When this is dry the area is swept with the front of a coconut tree before the kolam is applied, 'poured' from the hand in one continuous flow. In traditional Tamil culture crossing the threshold was a major self conscious event. The Kolam acted as a bridge between the inner and the outer worlds, between domestic and public space, between private and social lives. The kolam invites and honours the Goddess Laxmi, guardian deity of rice, earth and wealth, it both invites her blessing and indicates that a goddess (the housewife) lives within. , The kolam acts as a net, a catcher of emotion laden feelings, and as a protective screen for the emotions cast out by those who pass by the doorway or who cross the threshold. Kolam drawings are an integral part of life in Tamil Nadu, it is the art form of women as deeply infused with meaning and as transient as the sand mandela of the Tibetan Monks. In Tamil the word kolam means “beauty, form and play”. While the making of the kolam requires mathematical precision and hand eye coordination, they are also created with a sense of play and colours are added along with more traditional symbols such as peacocks and lotus. The rice paste is taken by small creatures like ants, rubbed away by foot steps over the course of the day. In the evening the kolam is refreshed and sometimes candles are added to the design during particular festivals.