A distinctive culture of South Indians is beautiful kolams drawn in multicolors. Kolam is an auspicious art of decorating the entrances of homes and houses by using rice flour. Traditionally, early in the morning women clean the front portion of their houses, sprinkle the area with water and draw the kolam with their forefinger and the thumb using white rice flour. Kolams give a special beauty to courtyards of houses. Besides, kolams are thought to bring prosperity to homes.
Over time with growth in creativity, this art has gone through changes by taking a new form. The patterns are drawn then decorated using colored rice flour, rice grain, other grains/beans, as well as, grated colored coconut. Compared to decades ago, kolam designs are more contemporary now.
In Malaysia, the drawing of kolam by Indians outside their homes is almost non-existent though they can be found in Hindu temples. Kolams are also drawn to decorate homes and reception halls; during Indian weddings. To keep the cultural aspect of this art alive and to ensure the younger generation of Indians; and Malaysians of other ethnicity know about it, kolam drawing competitions are held. One of which just took place this afternoon in my school. The theme was using Malay language as a means to unite the multiracial population of Malaysia.
It was truly heartening to see students of various races participating in groups to draw the best kolam as depicted in the pictures I have posted with this article. There were various designs drawn by the students. They were simply magnificent to view and the kolams decorated the foyer of our school canteen so beautifully.
Drawing kolams instills patience, teamwork, creativity and coordination from the members to draw the patterns of their kolams and decorate them colorfully. It also helps to improve mental discipline and concentration.
However, I have to add I find using rice and other grains to decorate kolams wasteful; especially when we know there are millions out there in the world who are suffering from poverty and famine.