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Custom Jewelry For Any Occasion…

East Indian Festival of Lights Celebration (Diwali 2011)

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Rangoli in progress (Photo Courtesy of The International House of Philadelphia)

What is a Rangoli? Come find out how to make one. Learn how to make your Rangoli eco-friendly with what you have nearby...

Diwali 2011 outline
iPhone photo of Rangoli in Chalk outline prior to filling in with colorful items

On October the 27th, 2011, The International House of Philadelphia commissioned me to make them an interactive Rangoli for their Diwali celebration for the public. I've only done one before this, so I was really honored that they asked me to be a part of it. Above, I made a sketch of the basic design. I started by making a 3.5 diameter circle template out of white paper that i know save and use over and over. It comes in handy because you can fold it in half to draw mid point lines and all sorts of wonderful things. It is great for getting your designs somewhat even in each portion. I also made some notes about which colors would go where.

As far as I understand it, and I am no expert, the actual Diwali celebration in India goes on for several days and the Rangoli in particular is meant to be a transitional and a very temporary decoration that you appreciate only as long as it survives. It is meant to be drawn at the entrance of a home and walked on. The footprints are to represent those of the Goddess Lakshimi and it is for her that the Rangoli is created. A gift of thanks for that she does for us. A giant welcome mat, if you will. I believe they often remake them every day for the duration for the celebration. But I could be wrong.

Here is a brief description from Wikipedia:

Spiritual Significance

While Diwali is popularly known as the "festival of lights", the most significant spiritual meaning is "the awareness of the inner light". Central to Hindu philosophy is the assertion that there is something beyond the physical body and mind which is pure, infinite, and eternal, called the Atman. The celebration of Diwali as the "victory of good over evil", refers to the light of higher knowledge dispelling all ignorance, the ignorance that masks one's true nature, not as the body, but as the unchanging, infinite, immanent and transcendent reality. With this awakening comes compassion and the awareness of the oneness of all things (higher knowledge). This brings anand (joy or peace). Just as we celebrate the birth of our physical being, Diwali is the celebration of this Inner Light.

While the story behind Diwali and the manner of celebration varies from region to region (festive fireworks, worship, lights, sharing of sweets), the essence is the same – to rejoice in the Inner Light (Atman) or the underlying Reality of all things (Brahman).

For further reading, please go here.

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Nearly complete Rangoli in progress (photo courtesy of The International House of Philadelphia)

It was important to me to try to create this Rangoli with as little impact to the environment as possible. With such short notice, I couldn't go entirely impact free, but I was pretty close. I did buy 4ft wide black poster paper. Ideally I would have like the same width of plain brown recycled heavy weight packing paper, but no one had it in stock on the shelf. I also really wanted that blue color and could not find anything local or organic so I went the next best thing and started looking around my art shelf. I found my oil pastels that I haven't used in two years. It took precisely one standard blue stick to do the entire blue section. The White and Pink are rose petals. The Yellow are chrysanthemums. The purple in the very center are another small daisy I'm not familiar with. All of these flowers I was able to rescue from being tossed away as they were no longer good for sale (Thank You for helping me out Weaver's Way!) The bright green and red you see are the berries or pods from a bush and tree in my yard. I collected the grass from my yard as well. The brown are lentils and the orange is rice that I dyed with a mixture of food coloring and vinegar and then let the rice dry for an hour or so.
It was amazing to watch everyone take over what I had created and just make it happen. It was so fun to see it come to life while I just stood back and watched! I hope everyone enjoyed making it as much as i enjoyed creating it for them.