How an Ancient Indian Art Utilizes Mathematics, Mythology, and Rice

By Rohini Chaki
Kōlam festivals are one of the few remaining opportunities to showcase this slowly fading tradition.
BEFORE THE FIRST RAYS OF sunlight stream across the rice fields and mud roads in the Nilgiri Mountains, before they force their way through the high-rises in the urban jungle of Chennai and Madurai, the women of Tamil Nadu are up for the day. In the dark, they clean the threshold to their home, and, following a centuries-long tradition, painstakingly draw beautiful, ritualistic designs called kōlam, using rice flour. But the kōlam is not just a prayer; it is also a metaphor for coexistence with nature. [More]
Colorful kōlams, such as this one by Godavari Krishnamurthy, are drawn during festivals