Kolam is a South Indian floor art which are drawn at the entrances to welcome the Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth. Kolams are drawn early in the morning by preparing the surface by sprinkling cow dung and cleaning the front yard. Then kolams are drawn either dotted or without dots.

The Indian floor painting art is also named as Rangavalli, Mugullu, Rangoli, Alpona, Chowkpurna, Mandana in different regions of India. This art form is done with dry rice powder, wet rice paste, colour powders.
Each and every region has its own culture and tradition of drawing kolams. Though the name differs,still the basic tradition is the same. Mostly kolams are drawn by women, exeptionally in Maharastra men draw sanskar bharti rangoli and take up drawing rangolis as a profession. They draw for marriage occasions or other festivals.

Every day Kolams are drawn at the entrance in the morning and evening by preparing the floor by cleaning and sprinkling cow dung water. The morning kolams are drawn big and elaborately done while evening with small kolams. The kolam differs on different days. Some draw lines kolams on Fridays and add kaavi (red soil) to the kolam to make it look grand. On festival days, the kolams are beautified with colours.
From Mid December to Mid of January, it is the Margazhi month in the Tamil calender. Margazhi – the month of kolams 😉 In this month, women get up early in the morning to draw kolams. Scientifically it has been proven that during this month the ozone layer is close to the earth and air is rich in oxygen. In spite of the chill weather we are encouraged by our elders to draw kolams in the early morning.

Kolapodi/rangoli powder – the grounded powder from white stones is normally used in drawing at the door step with an addition of rice flour for better texture and colour thus following the ancient tradition where rice flour was used to draw kolams which served as a food to small insects like ants and birds too.
Now a days, stone crushed rangoli powder is used to draw kolams. In North, marble powder is available in market as the by product while procuring and processing the stone. They have the distinct bright white colour making the rangoli look more elegant.

Wet rice paste is used for drawing kolams in South India. Rice is soaked and ground to fine paste by adding water while grinding. With a piece of cloth or cotton, kolam is drawn. The cloth gets soaked in the rice paste and taken in the palm, while the liquid is pressed and passed down through the ring finger. The ring fingers gets in touch with the floor acting like brush to mark the impression. This type of kolams stay for a longer period.

The preparation of wet rice paste is shown in this video https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=f2lXhg9vPWc

Chalk piece is also used to draw kolams when the above materials aren’t available to draw.

Kolams are drawn by forming a grid pattern with or without dots. Dots are placed in straight or intermediate, to understand this placement of dots, I have given the pattern in the post.
Dot pattern are of two types, straight and interlaced. The straight pattern and interlaced pattern are shown in the post for better understanding, The straight dots are placed in straight while the interlaced in between the dots in the next column.
The straight dot pattern usually has a square grid, if viewed on sides it looks like a square. The straight dot pattern usually has an uniqueness in dot specification. The number of dots at the bottom most row has the same of the last column If it has one then ends at one, If the centre column has a specific number of dots repeated for “n” times, the end column do have the “n” number of dots.
The intermediate dots are placed such that a polygonal shape is arrived by restricting the dots at the end. Instead of ending to one usually ended with specific number of dots. For example, 9 dots placed in the centre column has the side dot ending with 5, like wise 13 ends with 7, 15 with 9 vise versa. Usually it is a hexagonal shape.

Kolams are drawn with white sand powder, its kolapodi or rangoli powder. There are different methods of slipping the powder through the fingers. Usually in South Indian two fingers are used to slip the powder. The index and thumb fingers have the major role in drawing sleek line. It is called Single line Stroke, where single line is drawn in a stroke. Flat stroke is drawn by changing the direction of the flow. For single line the powder is slipped in vertical position, For Flat Line Stroke the powder is slipped in horizontal position. The line width is wider than the single line.

The video on strokes https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=8zN88wH3jFA

Broad Line Stroke is drawing using three fingers. The thumb, index and the middle finger. The rangoli powder has to be taken with the above fingers and slipped through forming a broad line. Double Line Stroke is where two parallel lines are drawn using three fingers. The double line stroke has a distinct two lines running parallel with a equidistant space separating them apart. The position of the three fingers differs from the broad stroke. In broad stroke three fingers are joined together to have a broader line, in double line stroke the position of middle finger changes. It takes a step back from the unison thus leaving away from the crowd, yet getting attached to the thumb finger. The distance of the middle finger determines the gap between the two parallel lines.

Super Broad Strokes This stroke is drawn with four fingers, the ring finger as the helping hand 🙂 The size of super broad strokes is twice the width of the broad strokes. This strokes can be used to draw the outer border of the kolam to give a bold and distinct finish to the rangoli.

Sanskar Bharti Stroke For this stroke five fingers work together to draw a single line stroke slipping the powder to form a crisp bold lines. This type of stroke is used in Sanskar Bharti type rangoli, where colours are spread on the floor and above to it white rangoli powder is used to draw the design. Some draw sanskar bharti rangolis by slipping the powder through the palm. This strokes have an appealing outlook as more powder is needed to draw this stroke, thus giving a bold and bright look against the contrast colours.

Line kolams are made by joining the dots forming designs and Sikku Kolam drawn around the dots. Sikku kolams are also know as Neli/Kambi/Chikku kolam.In this site the dot kolam menu has two links, one for the line the other sikku. Different patterns, designs, motifs can be viewed in dot and sikku kolam links.

Line kolams are drawn using a dot mat and lines are joined to form a design or pattern. Usually a pattern is formed on one side which is replicated on other three sides. Drawing a line kolam is quite easy as a pattern is followed in the entire kolam. A typical line kolam is in this link\. In this kolam you can find a design drawn on 4 sides and the sides being filled with a new design.

Freehand kolams are not limited to any genre, some in circular, square shapes enhanced with colour powder, flowers and coloured rock salt.

Small kolam can be as small as 2 dots kolams. Here I have drawn a 3 dots sikku kolam. The simple sikku kolam which I have given in step by step procedure to draw Small sikku kolam Below is the image of the sikku kolam with extensions. Normally these sorts of kolams are drawn in apartments because of space constraint. Normally apartments have a small doorstep maybe a 3 to 4 foot space and small kolams are ideal to drawn on those space constrain area.IF you feel people may stamp on your kolam either you can draw a maakolam(wet rice pace) or chalkpiece so it stays for the whole day unlike the rangoli powder which can erase even if the wind blows bit harder.

Small kolam can be drawn with dots or without dots. With dots it can be a sikku kolam or line kolam. Small dotted kolams can be viewed in this link small dot with dots This is a dotted kolam where dots are placed in interlaced patern. The step by step procedure is given below to the kolam.
A small dotted kolam can be extended into a big kolam by adding extra elements. It depends upon one’s imagination.
I like to extend small kolams as I have extended a 4 dots kolams into a big kolam by adding extra elements as seen in the video uploaded on the right hand side.

Draw any kolam of your choice. Next add a border to it, then try to add some basic elements like minarets or swirls around it and keep on extending till you have space, energy and time 😀 . I have collections of small kolams which can be seen in the following links small kolam collection -3 small line kolam

Freehand kolams are freestyle type kolams, which are drawn without dots. For a freehand kolam any shape, design can be drawn.
Small freehand kolams can be viewed in these links small kolam collection small kolams small freeehand kolam
In these links kolams with square, circle, triangular shapes are drawn as the base design.
I like to draw freehand kolams because it gives full freedom to imprint our ideas.
Freehand kolams can be started with a base design of your choice and keep on extending either with a theme or just with simple elements in it.
In North India freehand rangolis are drawn with coloured powders sprinkled and designs are drawn with white rangoli powder on it. There are basic designs for Sanskar bharti rangoli. With those designs a sanskar bharti rangolis are drawn with granduer. A small demo of sanskar bharti rangoli is uploaded in my youtube channel

In South India, we draw freehand rangolis in white kolapodi and then colour the inner space. Mostly white lines enclose the colour area. Colour rangolis are drawn on festival days and the whole month of margazhi.

Sikku Kolam isn’t preferred by everyone due to the illusion caused by the lines tangling in and round the dots. It isn’t such, the sikku kolam has a rigid symmetry following a pattern without any hassles. If you aren’t an ardent fan of sikku kolam, Start with 4 dots and For sure you will mesmerised by the flow of line dancing in between the dots. Click the link and start your journey of creating sikku kolams.
Chikku/Sikku/Neli/Kambi kolams are drawn around the dots forming loops and knots enclosing the dots. These kolams can be drawn right from 2 dots. Just a two loops can be crossed over to form a small and simple sikku kolam. Many think sikku kolams are very difficult to draw. But it is very simple if you get to know the twists and turns of the sikku strands. Kolams follow a symmetry in design, if you get to know one side of the design its easy to draw, a replica on other sides.
While drawing a kolam take the bottom most dot as the reference point to draw, with respect to the bottom dot you can have a coordinate points to draw the sikku strand.
A three dots sikku kolam is in this link . A basic sikku kolam illustrated with images so an easy understanding. Follow these steps to draw a 3 dots sikku kolam. This is the simplest sikku kolam. You can add four small sikku kolams to draw a big kolam such as this 4 dots kolams . You can draw big kolams by connecting 4 small sikku kolams. That’s an easy approach to start to draw sikku kolams

Padi kolams are drawn in square shape with even number lines, starting from two lines. Three lines are not usually drawn, it is drawn only during mourning period. A padi kolam can be viewed in this link. This is just a sample of padikolam.
Usually the centre of a kolam is not left empty a dot or is filled with some dots, as the starting point shouldn’t be empty. Padi kolams aren’t drawn in single line. It should be in even numbers.

This kolams are drawn in the state of Maharastra. They spread colours as the stage of drawing rangolis. Then they draw designs on the top in white rangoli powder and they use five fingers to draw the rangolis.
The sanskar bharti rangolis are drawn as a freehand kolam where it has concentric circular shape with designs drawn on each layer with contrast colours serving as the backdrop for the rangoli. The designs are mostly circular in shapes till they are drawn in square and other polygonal shapes. These type of rangoli is drawn during festivals especially during Ganesh Chathuthi and Durga Festival. Huge kolams are drawn on the entrances as to celebrate the festival with colours.