The rangoli artist speaks………….and feels……

At the outset, let me thank Satyam for giving me the idea of writing a blog about how I feel about my rangolis. I used to write about my rangolis, but only to myself. And when Satyam gave me the suggestion, I couldn’t resist (as if I’ve been able to resist the temptation for writing ever)……, here it goes……….

How exactly do I feel during the process of rangoli-making? Right from deciding about what to make until completion? Well, it’s a long process and I shall try to do justice to my thought process through the entire journey of rangoli making…….

Actually, the first thing that needs to be talked about is: Why rangoli? Well, frankly, I don’t know! I started off making rangolis back in school , about 15 years back, when there was a small inter-school competition organized by Rotary Group. I had not the faintest idea how to make a rangoli and made a mess of something I planned to make. I don’t even remember now what I made………and needless to say, I made one of those unnoticed type of rangolis. Someone who made a “kalash” with flowers stood first. And then, I realized that neatness pays! So, the next time, I made a very simple but neat rangoli! And result, I got a consolation prize.

And time just slipped past! It sounds liek ages ago that I used to make rangolis without any finesse……..anyway, after I came to IISc, I decided to experiment with this Art. The first serious attempt was when I participated in the Rangoli competition during Holi 2005, teamed up with Gowri. If I see that Rangoli now, I find it unbelievable that I made it, but nevertheless, I liked it back then. And it stood first. That was truly the first time that I felt I could explore this dimension of my personality……

And after that came a couple of competitions here and there. I won and apart from the competitive rangolis, I made some out of my own interest. Earlier, I used to make fast forward rangolis, but now, I have slowed down……………so, essentially, things have changed, hopefully for better………….

So, here comes my thought process while making a rangoli……

Step 1: Getting into the mood…..

Highly unpredictable. I never know when that urge may crop up! It’s happened in the middle of the night, early in the morning! I’ve made rangolis at practically any time of the day. I guess I am very moody about making rangolis. Once that urge comes, I go over to step 2…..

Step 2: Preparing for the rangoli……

This step depends on what I decide to make!!!!!!!!!!!!! And THAT is a very arbitrary step……when I make rangolis out of my own comcept, this is a PROCESS rather than a step. I keep making and keep adding to the original idea, depending on how much colour I have left with me, how bored I am, how tired I am, how long I’ve been making the rangoli for, how much patience is left and such things…….

But when I make something that is seen from somewhere, it’s a little different. I have to see the image and my first impulse should be, “I can’t do it”. And that is when I feel like doing it. And the barriers my mind creates work for me, the other way round, in helping me soar, higher and higher…….and go farther and farther………..I sort of rebel against my own mind’s limitations.

So, once an image fulfils this criterion, I am all set to make that rangoli……….a sub-step for this step is getting the material ready. This is a tedious step as it needs me to go off campus, guage what colours I need, decide about how much of what…………..oh! In short, it’s tedious…….but with all the help of my awesome friends, I come out of this step fairly unscarred……….and of course, this step is costly! Every rangoli costs me about an average of 200-400 rupees! (and the priceless amount of effort)….but of course, one has to give something to get something! 🙂

Step 3: Starting the rangoli……..

This is one step that depends on a lot of external factors! Like when do I get time from my work, when do I get the maximum output out of myself, when is the cat least likely to run over my rangoli (I shall elaborate about this later)………

There have been times when I’ve started at 6:00 am, also, I’ve starts at 12:00 midnight, at 3:00 pm, at 6:00 pm………….just about any time of the day! And when I start, my grahasthi comes downstairs! My stereo, my cell-phone, food-stuff, rangoli bag (trust me, I have a bag weighing about 7-8 kgs containing my rangoli stuff), chalks, rulers, broom………..:D This is how elaborate a preparation my rangolis need!

And so, the work starts! While I make the rangoli, there’s a constant stream of people passing by! Some of them don’t even look (ya, I raise my head at every single noise of someone’s arrival), some stop and look, some stop, look and say a few words and some stop over, talk to me, assist me in small things! (This Group is generally of my friends in Hostel, and am I not thankful to all of them…….)……..

Honestly, the ones who don’t even stop and look make me feel somewhat disappointed. However enexpecting I get, I do expect a second glance at the amount of effort I put in! And most of these non-glancing types cause a dent in my spirits! I conquer it, all right, but it does somewhat hurt at that time. The ones who stop to look are the inconsequential kinds. The ones who stop, look and say a few words are the ones who elate me but it’s the last category that affects me the most! The stop, look, talk and assist types……..

It has happened that I have been making rangolis and my friends have run around for getting me food, juice…..attending my calls, replying to my messages, feeding me food (as my hands are dirty, I can’t eat myself)……………these friends have touched me deeply! There have even been times when my friends have stayed up through the night (not exactly through the night, but ya, for LONG enough) keeping me company, talking to me, telling me things, assisting me in the rangoli………….and THAT helps………I could never thank all my friends enough………..

So, coming back to where I was, while making the rangoli, it’s more like a challenge to get the things right! By right, I don’t mean that I intend to replicate the original. Just that “I” should feel good about what I have done…….and sometimes, I do fail miserably at that! I know that the thing I have made isn’t what I intended to do but I do not go ahead with improving it as I am generally BROKEN by the time it’s time to wrap up!!!!!!!!

Rangoli is physically very very strenuous as there are only certain ways in which I can sit/stand for getting the patterns right. And repeatedly sitting in those same positions does take its toll. So, towards the end, I start sort of hurrying up too………

Once the rangoli is over, the first feeling is that of extreme euphoria! Because I can finally stretch myself and relax a little………and then, I have to wrap up the “grahasthi” I’d have brought down. Once again, my dear hostel friends assist me in this! 🙂

After I’d have wrapped up things and would’ve clicked photos, I start seeing my faults. The initial euphoria lasts only 10 mins or so! Since I’d have been staring at the same rangoli for hours, I cease to see my mistakes. But once it’s over and I’d have taken a “break”, I start seeing my imperfections! And believe me, hours of advising by my friends and loads of practice has finally made me somewhat tolerant of my faults! Earlier, these small things used to cause me depression……….and I’d vouch never to touch rangoli again (silly na? :D)………….

And also, there’s this fear of the CAT running over my rangoli (a job so promptly done by the Bharani cat that I am amazed as to whether she has some supernatural powers)……

Earlier, I used to get majorly worked up about this cat business. But now, it doesn’t matter. I have learnt to accept the transience of the rangolis. Before beginning the rangoli, I know what’s its fate. I know that it’s going to be swept off and adorn the dust-bin a few days hence. Quite unlike tha paintings one can frame and preserve………so, there’s this sense of detachment that these rangolis have taught me. Give things your best and then, let go……………it’s a big lesson in life and it matters…………….if I continue to cling to the rangolis, I’m in for disappointment…, I have slowly taught myself to let go!

I guess enough of blabbering for now…………, this is the story of thoughts of a Rangoli artist!

With this I sign off and leave a link for the browsers-through to look at the other rangolis of mine………….

Smile always……………

Pritesh 🙂

PS: I havo to thank some people for making this blog possible………….acknowledgements are inevitable here………..

1. Kripa: For the photos, without her, the rangoli photos couldn’t have made it to the blog……..and also, for unending support during my rangolis…….

2. Sujit: For being such an honest critic………and for those wonderful discussions that help me grow as an artist……..invaluable stuff really………..

3. Ananth: For being patient with my rangoli stuff shopping……….providing the templates (my last two rangolis have been his suggestions)…………….for candid appreciation and criticism………for lifting my spirits up when I was disappointed with my efforts……….

4. Gowri, Geetu, Anu, Sharmila, Rumz, Pachi, Rajani……………for helping me with various things at different times………….and all my Bharani friends too for being supportive and encouraging….

5. Karthik, Ashima, Shivapriya and Sathyanarayanan: For being the photographers of my rangolis at different times and dutifully sending the pictures to me…….

And to everyone else whose names I may have forgotten to add………….



  1. May 2, 2006 at 12:03 pm

    Sounds like the words of a maestro! Really!
    I must say your words ring with authenticity here more than ever before. I am there to testify to the hard work you put; and to the fact that you are one of your kind of artist in the whole circle of my knowing. Thousand compliments. I look forward to seeing many many more masterpieces from you in the near and protracted future.

    Where my experiences have somewhat differed from yours?
    As for me, I will perhaps never gather hearts to write about my work of art, as a separate piece. But here I will piggy back a bit on your blog. I trudge on a path travelled by many masters who have set such unattainable standards that I have no illusions of being close somewhere.

    Quite unlike your case, I enjoy no 10 minute euphoria after creating those cartoons. I always work with that dagger of consciousness of my shortcomings digging deeper and deeper every moment into my heart! I really haven’t figured out why I keep drawing!

    Here’s where I can so identify with your feeling. That feeling of letting go. Your rangoli gets washed away after a few days! How painful must it be! But by God, the radiance of its short-livedness is dazzling enough for a life of many years! I have learned to handle a similar pain, and it took me decades to come to terms with it. Cartooning is a neglected art! And all its hardwork, ironically, goes into ensuring that people neglect the difficulty in it. When each line drawn is given preference to thousand others and is drawn with one single, confident stroke creating an illusion of thoughtless spontaneity, the cartoonist digs the grave of his own recognition. I have learned the hard way to accept that cartooning will always be looked at by general audience as a glorified sketch, and a bad painting!

    Those moments of inspiration, despair…how they have tortured me, how I have been slave to them! But I keep trying to control that energy into a steady professional flow. It’s hard and unnatural. But it yields fruits in this trade.

    Finally, my compliments once again. If there is a way I can learn this ‘shading’ business from you, please take a couple of classes and reveal those secrets. But remember, there’re but only a few colours in my mind’s palette! 😉

    Thanks a lot for acknowledging my humble suggestions! 🙂


  2. Pritesh said,

    May 2, 2006 at 9:11 pm

    Nice comment Sujju. I guess being a self-critic helps. At least, I seem to think so. And one has to have some honest critics around too. Preferably, people who have some experience in the thing! It may not always be the case though. But having the honest critic around has this twin advantage of staying grounded despite all the compliments flowing in and being able to grow as an artist through constructive criticism……

    I feel only blessed to have many of them around who don’t hesitate to let me where I’ve gone wrong……:)

  3. fuse me said,

    May 4, 2006 at 10:17 pm

    Keep it up, good writing too along with gerat rangolis.

  4. Karthik said,

    May 6, 2006 at 4:12 am

    I second Ananth ! Am sure you’ll come out with flying colours in every Rangoli you make 🙂

  5. Pritesh said,

    May 9, 2006 at 10:57 pm

    I hope to live up to the expectations of all of you! :)–>

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