Kolam - The Traditional Floor Drawing of South India

1. A Kolam in front of the entrance of a house.
1. A Kolam in front of the entrance of a house.


Kolam is a drawing generally drawn at the entrance of a house or any other building. This is a very old practice in South India. Dried rice flour or other types of wkite powders are used for drawing kolams. Although there are numerous traditional kolams patterns and lot more can be created depending on the creativity of the person who draws it, it is not drawn like a picture. Patterns are created based on certain systems. Drawing Kolam is practiced by women. Generally women get up early in the morning and clean the area just outside the entranes of their houses, sprinkle the area with water and draw the kolam by dropping the loose dried flour in a controlled way through their forefinger and the thumb.

Mostly the kolam patterns are created based on dots arranged in different types of grid patterns. However, many non-dot based kolam patterns also are available.

2. Three types of dot arrangements to guide kolam patterns.
2. Three types of dot arrangements to guide kolam patterns.

Purpose of Kolam Drawing

Purpose of kolams are not merely decorative. Kolam drawing has several social, spiritual andsymbolic meanings attached to it. Those who practice this believe that drawing kolam purify the entrance space and this in turn will invite the goddess of wealth Laxmi to enter the house. This they beleive would give the inmates all wealth and prosperity.

Drawing Types

Kolam patterns can be drawn in deferent ways. generally the kolams based on dots can be drawn either by joining the dots by straight or cuvered lines or patterns can be created by drawing lines between and around the dots.

3. Some Simple Kolam Drawings
3. Some Simple Kolam Drawings

Larger Kolams

Large Kolam patterns can be easily drawn by using smaller modules similar to the ones shown in fig. 3, or by increasing the dots and continue the same method used to draw the smaller patterns. In this way Kolams can be drawn to any size, if the place and time allow anyone to do so.

Large Kolam patterns created by repeating modules
Large Kolam patterns created by repeating modules

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Comments 35 comments

SunSeven profile image

SunSeven 9 years ago from Singapore / India

These simple yet fantastic designs have always fascinated me. I think this is mostly practiced in Tamil Nadu. Am I right?

Rmnathan profile image

Rmnathan 9 years ago from Sharjah Author

I think This is practiced in parts od Andhra too. However, Line based Kolams are mostly practiced in Tamil Nadu. Several years ago I saw a documentary about colourful Rangoly type patterns practiced in Andhra.

SunSeven profile image

SunSeven 9 years ago from Singapore / India

I wonder what they use for colors.

Rmnathan profile image

Rmnathan 9 years ago from Sharjah Author

Traditionally, coloured rice flour, brick powder, saw dust, powdered marble and many other similar materials were used. natural colouring materials such as turmeric were used for colouring purpose. Now several types of artificial colouring are available. I do not know what they use as base.

MM Del Rosario profile image

MM Del Rosario 9 years ago from NSW, Australia

A very informative hub, is this still being practice now in India?

Rmnathan profile image

Rmnathan 9 years ago from Sharjah Author

Thanks for your comments Rosario. It is still practiced widely in South India, especially in Tamil Nadu state. In the urban areas the life style does not allow this to be practice in the same way it was done in the past. However, this traditional art attract many in these areas too. Dozens of weekly and monthly magazines that are published here, allocate space for features related to kolam art. In recent times this art has become subject of researches, dealing with its various aspects including its cultural, social, mathematical properties.

guest 9 years ago

they usually get the colour from food colouring

Sakhee 9 years ago

I want some more kolam designs and also the designs to be drawn on threshold.

Rmnathan profile image

Rmnathan 9 years ago from Sharjah Author

I am planning to include more kolams soon.

webismine profile image

webismine 9 years ago from INDIA

Dear RmNathan,

Very good work. Kolam is called WAVE in english, the art of drawing a Kolam can be called as Waving. I think the above said info will be useful for people other than tamils.

Well, I want to suggest you to write about Rangloi also.

I'm an artist/painter. So, I basically love making kolams, I design in paper. I like this hub very much.

Once again I praise the hubber for this.

All the best for more...

Rmnathan profile image

Rmnathan 9 years ago from Sharjah Author

webismine, thanks for your comments. I will write about Rangoli too.

Kum 8 years ago

Hi i am from Malaysia. I would just like to know, what happens to the rice that was used to colour the kolam? What is the significance of using rice?

tamil 8 years ago

hi hru/

Roopa 8 years ago

Rice was used so that ants could eat.

Narayanan 8 years ago

Yes Roopa ...well said.....!!! that's one genuine reason why they use rice powder...... there are many customs like this, which symbolises, peaceful co-existence with nature.....

uma 7 years ago

can somebody please post some desings for the typical 'naalu moolai kolam' (square) that is drawn on auspicious occassions?

Chantal Jumel 7 years ago


Nice kolam page, if I may present my site for those reading french. An english version should come soon. I do speak english but the translation has to be great. Thanks Chantal

chantal Jumel 7 years ago

Dear RmNathan,

Very happy to share with you all, the english version of my site.


Cordially C.Jumel

Rajan 7 years ago

I am from Malaysia, it has been yearly affair for me to do kolam for my company's function like Deepavali gathering.

I learned by looking someone doing it and I think I have the natural ability to do the turn and twist of the kolam.

keerthana 7 years ago

It is so beautiful.

priya 7 years ago

sari mokkai kolam

SHARMILA 6 years ago

Privide more simple kolam collection

Viji 6 years ago

i love vijay. but he like kolam .but i don't know kolam.

one day i kissed him.

raqi14 6 years ago

i love kolam.. love collecting designs. and i can say im gifted cause i can make beautiful kolams. if anybody wanna share and designs with me, fill free to mail it to me. raqi_1404@yahoo.com. thanks..

SANGIITA  5 years ago


SANGIITA  5 years ago


Roslinda 5 years ago

so hard to draw!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

tohmm cobban architect 5 years ago

Kolams are very interesting. I am a canadian architect/artist cruising the web at 5:00 in the morning (couldn't sleep) and came upon this while looking for info on traditional Indian house plans. Love the way the web let's us all connect in this way...

Aishwarya 5 years ago

Nice to draw

Aishwarya 5 years ago

can improve the designs



nandhini 5 years ago


stessily 4 years ago

Rmnathan, I loved waking up in Andhra and Tamil Nadu with the excitement of wondering what new kolam would greet me! Many of them were incredibly intricate. When a neighbour there realized how much I loved them, she created new ones every single day. Then I woke up early to watch her as she drew them.

Thank you for sharing.

kharnavindran 4 years ago

what a nice disin

of kolam is it.

i really love it.

iwant to put this kolam

in front of my house

KHARNAVIN 2 years ago


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