By CATAdvanced Cash

Kolam: Feeding a Thousand Souls

The kolam is an ephemeral ritual art created daily with rice flour on thresholds of households, temples and businesses throughout Tamil Nadu, a southern state in India. It is a part of a women’s ritual art tradition that is practiced by women throughout India at Hindu festivals and called by different names: rangoli, muggu, alpana, mandana. ¬†Women say the primary reason they make the kolam is to feed a thousand souls, that the first ritual act of a Hindu household, according to ancient traditions, should be to feed a thousand souls, whether human or animal. Once the kolam designs are ritually made, they are literally eaten by ants, bugs, birds and worms throughout the morning. Feeding a thousand souls is one ethical tradition’s orientation towards living with compassion throughout the day.
Vijaya Nagarajan will present a short talk on the kolam and Tamil women ritual artists will demonstrate the ritual of the kolam on the threshold of the conference.