Wednesday, October 26, 2005


image courtesy wikimedia-kolam

I am going to draw Kolam today. I have specially practised that new Kolam for this day. I have already bought kolappodi (finely powdered limestone, different type of limestone), when I went to buy whitewash-limestone from the kiln. Mother used the whitewash-limestone to whitewash the house. House looks all new, like wearing new clothes, like me. I went to the vaasal with my kolappodi. Chiththi has found out what I am upto. "Eh, what are you going to do?" I am going to draw kolam". "No, don't do it. By the way how did you get kolappodi?" "I bought it". "Who gave you money?" "I bought from my pocket money" "Akka, look at your daughter" She is calling my mother. Neither herslef nor me are really afraid of my mother. She just wants to make noise about my kolam. She comes with a bucket of water behind me. "What?" !! "Why do you need that water for?" "I know you cannot draw kolam well. so, if you screw up, I will clean the vaasal". "I won't screw up, I have practised it well." where did you practise?" "In my notebook" "So, you have wasted your notebook!! Akka, look at your daughter. We buy her notebooks for her study and she wastes them for kolam.", then looking at me, "Kolam has to be practised by really doing it with kolappodi. Without that you won't get the fluency". "What, you will let me practise that in our vaasal, when you are coming with a bucket of water like this?" "What do you need kolam for? our vaasal is small, bulls walk by it and they will ruin all the kolam and so you should not draw kolam. In our house we don't do kolams. That is only for those komuttichettyaar ladies." "Why it is only for them?" "Listen, no kolam in our house". "I am not going to do it everyday. it is special day. Please do not ruin it." I have already cleared the area in the vaasal. I start drawing the dots, using which I have to draw the kolam. I start counting the dots. There are two types of kolam dot style I know. One is, alternate line of dots are inbetween the dots in the previous one. we call them "idaip pulli" litterally meaning "inbetween type dots" and the other type in which the dots are in line with the dots in the previous line. In both the cases, the centre line will have maximum number of dots and then it will keep on decreasing both sides, until we reach one dot or sometimes three dots only. So, it is always the centre line has odd numbered dots. In few special cases they are even numbered and finish at two dots, like the one I have practised for today. It has 14 dots at the centre line and it has two centre lines. I start counting the dots and continue my kolam. "Eh, eh, they are not straight. Didn't I tell you, you cannot do them". "They are fine". I conitnue. Karuvayan chiththappa goes holding his two bulls. "What mathini, Latha is drawing kolam. And, what are you doing with bucket of water?" "She cannot draw kolam, so I am going to clean it once she finishes it". "Latha, Chithi is going to clean it anyway, so, why are you drawing kolam?" "Please tell her to leave it chithappa. I have been practising it for weeks. I can draw well. And, it is special day too. " "Mathini, let her do whatever she wants. Even if it is not nice, let it be there. Why do you want to clean it?" "See you are going with your bulls. They are walking on the dots. Already two dots are lost because the bulls have stepped on them. In few hours all the bulls from all the houses and cows from all the houses will go by this vaasal and all the kolam will be lost. That is why I want to clean it straight away." If the bulls and cows ruin it, let them ruin it. The kolam will be there for atleast few hours. but you want to clean them straight away. that is worse isn't it? " "That is why I am telling you not to draw it in the first place". "Mathini, let her do. She is small after all. Why are you fighting with a small girl?" "So, small girl should stay as small girl. why is she drawing kolam?". "You draw lathappillai. I support you". But he leaves for the farm with his bulls. He has lot of work to do in the farm so, he cannot stay and support me. Chithi is sitting there drinking her coffee watching me drawing my kolam. Myself and Murugeswari akka have practised these kolams and we have been planning for days. We both have bought this kolappodi without our folks' knowledge. I can tell she is having similar session in her house, except that, she does not have chiththi, (well her chithithis live separately), but her mother compensates for that. I have almost finish......what, it is going wrong. I stop for a minute and look at the lines, have I drawn correct? It looks like one dot is missing. "Didn't I tell you, you cannot draw. I knew it!!!" "no, no. it is fine. I am just checking it". "Why do you need checking if everything is fine?", so I stop checking and continue to draw. Almost there. Looks like it is alright, except that it does show that I do not have real practise in drawing kolam in vaasal using real kolappodi. There you go, I have finished. I look at the kolam from all sides with so much satisfaction. Blang!! a bucket of water dissolving my limestone kolappodi washes the vaasal making it cleaner!!

Interactive kolam


sudha said...

where is the first picture from ? the type of kolam you are talking about is "sikku" kolam...kolam that goes in between dots. I do not know how to put those ...all of mine are regular dot joining or rangoli. neenga diwalikku kolam pottu kalakkalaame :-) ?

my experience in kolam is not entirely different in some vague sense too.... :-) i know u will be surprised. we used to wake up at 4 am in chennai , anna nagar to put kolam with colour et al. every margazhi. there was a mutual competition in my street on who drew better kolams...some of my neighbours used to ask us how to draw certain kolams , my mom and i never gave out the kolam designs, and the dots were difficult to figure out once we coloured it . we usually drew the non-regular kolams that were collected over the ages by my mom , her sisters and their friends. my mom, her sisters were amazingly good at drawing kolams and ours usually looked better than anyone else's in the street , either in chennai / my village back near Panruti. it is a beautiful village called maligaimedu.( i agree that madurai jilla and villages near pollaachi are more popular and scenic than cuddalore's ) anyway, coming back to my story, my neighbour used to encourage her kids to come and rub out our kolams when noone was looking . so many times we have seen our hard work go to waste. i remember my father shooing away kids all day one deepavalli. we then stopped putting kolams afterward coz it was just a waste of time as the kids got to it sooner or later each time.

i now see that we could have shared our kolam designs , some of them were self -designed by me or my mom , true , but didnt really matter. i think they just did not want a better looking kolam than theirs -- it would not have changed had we given our kolam designs to them . they had always been awful neighbours in all other respects too. i dont know why -- we had never had good neighbours in chennai ... almost everyone of them had been very unfriendly. i had completely forgotten about my neighbours and their antics in the last two years or so...

Lata said...

Your kolam picture is really nice. I noticed the small conch (sangu design) on top of the kolam. I read somewhere that a conch is drawn along with the main kolam to make it even-numbered. Is it true?

Looks like you had a lot of space to practice kolams at your home while growing up. I have never had the space to try big rangolis in front of our apartment in Delhi. Thanks for sharing your childhood experience...

radhika said...

that must have been terrible! getting water all over your kolam efforts. i think i would have brought the whole house down!

you can still practise kolam now :-) there'll be no one to spoil it. i tried a small design once with the rice-powder-paste on my doorstep. one of the three fat cats in our neighbourhood kept watching from very close...then he came closer, licked up all the dots and the lines, curled himself into a furball, and went off to sleep.

S said...

very nice bring to life the essence of rural was humorous too ...esp that bit...."in our house we don't do's only fo rthose komuttichettoyar ladies" LOL....I can relate to that and a chithi sitting with a bucket of water!! keep 'em coming.....


Anonymous said...

Post was very nice. I agree with S. I could imagine how that scene would have been.

Chithi's sometimes are not friendly as shown in tamil movies. To the contrary my chithi is very kind, soft and lovely. She is my father's younger brother's wife.

Keep writing.

Premalatha said...

Hi Sudha, Latha, S , Radhika and anon,

Please bear with me, that I am being held up little by some duty calls. I want to reply all separately. Thank you all for your comments. I am pleased to know that my postings are likeable (readable first of all. lol.),

Will be back soon:)

Premalatha said...

Hi Sudha,

I apologise for replying late.

you are talking about is "sikku" kolam...

I know the other type as well. but I like sikku because it looks more traditional, more "tamil"

Balan grew up in Villupuram. He seems to know your place, Maligaimedu. It should be one of those "old", "traditional" villages. You can make out from their names. :)

Neighbours are never good people are they:)

Nice story about your designs and keeping them secret.

Premalatha said...

Hi Latha,

I noticed that, the interactive kolam site is yours. Thanks for keeping such a nice site.

As far as the question conch, or making things even... way off my league. :) But, I have not come across such a thing before, if this helps!! yes, I noticed that there is a conch in the picture I have posted. It is nicked from another site. so, no idea!!!

There is no space problem in villages!!

Premalatha said...

Hi Radhika,

Traditionally, rice powder was the kolappodi. and the kolam was drawn to feed ant and such small living things it seems. So, you have brought that tradition alive back when you fed that furball cat!!

No, I didn't get to draw kolam for Diwali party yesterday. I could draw in front of my apartment. I have space. I don't have chithi here to wash my vaasal after I have finished my kolam, which is a kind of put off!! This was not a one time incident. it happened several times/ Neither myself nor her, really gave up. I drew and drew, she washed and washed!!!:) So, it is hard to draw kolam when she is not there to wash it. She just rang this morning to moan about not having new clothes for this Diwali.

Premalatha said...

Hi S,

I know I did mean it as a humour.

thanks for dropping by:)

Premalatha said...

Hi Anon,

Thanks for dropping by.

my chithi is very kind, soft and lovely.

Lucky you. :)

Thanks for your comment. I am pleased to know that many people do seem to like my posts!! thanks again.

பாலராஜன்கீதா said...

First of all let me thank dubukku for reading your blogs.

The kOlams are to be drawn by arisi maavu only, to feed the small insects (ants,....) / pet birds (cock, hen, chicken, dove, .....)

Further It helps to improve one's concentration on attaining his goals in life.

BTW, may i make an humble suggestion?

Please write your articles in small paragraphs for better readability / clarity.

Premalatha said...

பாலராஜன்கீதா said...
First of all let me thank dubukku for reading your blogs.

The kOlams are to be drawn by arisi maavu only, to feed the small insects (ants,....) / pet birds (cock, hen, chicken, dove, .....)

Further It helps to improve one's concentration on attaining his goals in life.

BTW, may i make an humble suggestion?

Please write your articles in small paragraphs for better readability / clarity.

8:13 PM, November 10, 2005

Hi Balarajangeetha,

(thanks dubuks:)) Thanks for dropping by.

I do know "rice" was the powder used long long long long time ago. but what do people use these days, atleast in my home town, is not rice powder, but limestone powder.

I have no idea about achieving goal in life by drawing kolams.

regarding your suggestion, I will try my best to make it readable. I have this theme sometimes has to go in one go. It cannot have a break. so, sometimes it has to be in one para. if it can afford to be in two paras, I surely will do them in more than one para.

thanks for your suggestions. Do come back when you have time.

phantom363 said...

this triggered my memory of a childhood poem i thought i had long forgotten.. here it is..:)

paar paar ther ther
enna ther amman ther
enna amman maari amman
enna maari kal maari
enna kal pachai kal
enna pacha elai pacha
enna elai maa elai
enna maa kola maa
enna kolam theru kolam
enna theru kada theru
enna kadai pazha kadai
enna pazham palaa pazham
enna palaa ver palaa
enna ver pakka ver
enna pakkam uL pakkam
enna Ul KADAVUL :)

Sathya said...

Hi friend,
Vn u have time check out my Kolam Blog.
Ur valuable comments r welcome.