'Alpana ' as it is commonly called in Bengal ,'Kolam'in some parts of south India,'Aripana' in Bihar, and 'Rangoli'as it is commonly called in most parts of India,is a very auspicious art form portrayed in most of the houses.'Rangoli 'is derived from the words -'rang'=colors and 'avalli'=rows ;Sanskrit words,and is an art form where colors are used in an organized manner in rows to create some pattern or design.
Rangoli used grounded dried rice floor traditionally for drawing the designs and was later replaced by dried lime stone /chalk powder .colors were created traditionally by the natural colors like 'kumkum',a red powder made from the traditional 'crocus sativus /'kesar' plant;yellow'haldi'or turmeric powder derived from 'circum longa plant ;black color from ashes from the burnt wood /charcoal ,brown color fron the wood saw dust,green from dried leaves ,and so on.;but gradually these colors were replaced by the chemicals and have a variety of colors like red ,green ,black ,orange yellow available now.
Rangoli is drawn in most parts of the south India,everyday at the door step using a plain white powder,as a symbolism of 'good luck 'and prosperity and it is said that the rangoli has a power to ward off the evil spirits and purify the houses and welcome only the 'good'.In most parts of India ,'rangoli'is done with a lot of colors and decorations during a festival /function as a symbolism to invite/welcome the guests in a colorful way ,with a theme'athiti Devo bhava' /guests are equivalent to god .Some important occasions like the Diwali,Laxmi pooja ,navratri or certain pooja/worships, have rangoli drawn near the god's room as ritual to welcome the god/goddess to the house to incorporate wealth /prosperity in the house and shower blessings on the house members.They also create various designs of god /goddess in the art form or also have some holy auspicious symbols like 'om','swastik','kalash','lighting lamp'etc during these occasions.A traditional house warming ceremony or 'ganesh homa'/sacrificial fire to god would have rangolis having some specific colors and designs created by the priest doing these ceremony.They also use grains,lentils ,pulses,glitters ,flowers and lamps to decorate and add a charm to the rangoli.
Now ,the funniest part is that I do not know to draw a rangoli and my constant strenuous efforts have often been in vain!so what I do is, get some ready made mould designs, and splatter some powder over them with an intended pattern and at a jiffy, 'rangoli's are made!:)The one in the picture was my Gujarati neighbor's design for Diwali.good one right?