This is a continuation of the discussion of rangoli. (Go back to part 1)
On a mythological level, they are created to welcome Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity, into their homes and businesses to bless with good fortune throughout the coming year. On a metaphysical level, these designs act like sieves to filter the energies in the atmosphere and allow only the positive ones to enter. On a philosophical level, rangoli symbolizes the Hindu concepts of the Impermanence of Life and the Interconnectedness of the Universe.
For many, rangoli is a form of meditation, used as a tool to redirect the mind from worldly concerns to the singular task of creating a rest stop for Divinity. Other people, like those who live in Shanti Niketan (a city which was founded by Rabindranath Tagore over one hundred years ago) near Kolkata, study it as an independent subject in school.
Rangoli is known by different names in different parts of the subcontinent. For example, in Maharashtra, it is called rangoli, but in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, it is known as kolam. Bengalis call it alpana, and the people of Rajasthan call it madana. Whatever people call it, this traditional art form is rich in symbolism.