Breakfast and Kolam - 7

This concludes my week of breakfasts and kolams. Thank you for your patience. For those who are reading this from top to bottom, and who don't know what kolam is: traditionally, a woman in a Tamil Hindu household washes the threshhold early in the morning and makes these decorative patterns with rice flour. A flower may be placed in the centre of the kolam. During the month of Margazhi, in the cool season, a squash blossom is placed in a dab of cow dung in the centre. There must be hundreds of kolam designs -- during the annual Mylapore festival there is a kolam competition, where women make huge designs that stretch from one side of a (narrow) street to the other. Other designs may be more perfunctory, just a small grid of dots linked by loops -- a dutiful kind of kolam.

In north India people make similar rangoli designs on festive occasions. As the name implies (rang = colour), coloured powders are used. I don't think these are done every day -- maybe someone who knows better can educate me on this.

I doubt if the people who put the kolam meditate on the meaning of what they're doing. It's part of keeping an auspicious house, like putting jasmine in one's hair and doing the daily puja. To me it has to do with demarcating, and perhaps protecting, the threshhold, the line between the outside world and home.


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