One of the fondest memories from my childhood is Diwali celebration at my ancestral home in Himachal. What I remember most distinctively is the ‘aipan’ that my ma, chachis and tais used to make near Tulsi in the central courtyard of the house. A huge square of red was prepared as a base with red powder mixed in water and then an intricate design was drawn with rice powder. It was connected to the Puja room and all other rooms with feet of Lakshmi on it. Every first day of the month (as per Indian calendar) called sagrand in pahadi was also welcomed by these beautiful floor paintings. I try to follow this tradition in my city home. Though I don’t do it so elaborately, it makes me feel nostalgic and takes me back to my roots.
Like Kolam in Tamil Nadu is done as an everyday ritual and is made to welcome guests, an announcement that the house is alive and inviting. Every kolam is a rich tapestry of parallel and curvy lines criss-crossing each other creating intricate patterns. Unlike kolam, Alpona is occasional and covers a larger area in front of the house and can be in any shape. Alpona is a beautiful medley of a wide range of motifs and designs made during festivals and auspicious occasions.
Mandana in Rajasthan has non geometrical motifs of tigers, monkeys, peacocks, cats and are drawn with white chalk or limestone on floors and walls plastered with red clay. The most common design is a triangle with floral borders, called as the ‘Lakshmi’s feet’, a symbol of prosperity.