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Photographer's Note

There are many ways to ward off evil..but one sure shot way is to draw a Kolam in front of your house. "Kolam" refers to the decorative artwork drawn in front of houses and in front of deities in puja rooms. Most often, finely ground rice powder is used to make these drawings on a moist ground previously sprinkled with water or in some cases a dilute solution of cowdung for its high purification value and also to give the Kolam a darker background. Each day before the sun rises, millions of women in south India say silent prayers as they sprinkle their hearths with rice powder or chalk to make kolams and invite the divine to grace their homes. The kolam -an ancient Dravidian geometrical motif - combines form, movement and colour to announce each new day.

Coloration of the artwork with color powders adds additional charm. It is a time old cultural tradition of south indian families going back to many many generations. Young girls learn many of these artwork from their mothers, grandmas, aunties,.... The drawing starting with a certain number pattern of points and curly lines going around these points. Many of these are completed with a single line going in an elegant but zig-zag away around the entire set of points.

In this picture little Reethi is watching her aunt draw a small Kolam in front of their temple ground with great interest. Hope she and little girls like her will grow up in the midst of such traditions and keep it alive in this fast modernising world.

The tamil month of "markazhi" (Dec - Jan) is particularly important when fairly large size Kolams are put in front of the houses, with additional decoration with yellow flowers of pumpkin. Putting Kolams in front of the houses is very much in practice in south Indian villages. But unfortunately the practice is becoming nearly extinct in metropolitan cities where more and more are living in high-rise appartment buildings.

I am starting a theme on Kolams and will be posting more of it. Hope people who love the culture and tradition of South India and India as a whole will contribute to the theme.

For people who are interested, these are some links that i found that has some good Kolams in it -

http://www.uni-koeln.de/phil-fak/indologie/kolam/kolam1/kolamsmg.html
http://www.chennaionline.com/festivalsnreligion/margazhi/kolam/index.asp

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Additional Photos by Ranjith Kumar (apache) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 325 W: 13 N: 359] (1426)
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