Our Rangoli Workshop

On the 29th of November 2010 a well known Rangoli artist visited our school. Her name was Smita Upadhye. She was eager to teach us how to make a contemporary rangoli pattern which she had created especially for us.It was a flower from the pohutakawa, the New Zealand Christmas tree.

But first she explained what Rangoli is and showed us some photographs and examples of her own work.

Rangoli is a traditional art form which is created by families at home. The skills are passed on from grandmother to mother to daughter. During the Diwali festival many families will create rangoli patterns by sprinkling coloured powders on the doorsteps of their homes.

Smita won a competition at the NZ Diwali Festival with her rangoli portrait of the then Prime Minister Helen Clark. She also created a large rangoli portrait of Sir Edmund Hillary. She showed us a photo of how rangoli was used as body art for a short feature film called Fleeting moments which was shown internationally.

Smita creates rangoli pictures for weddings.They are used as a decoration on the day and are then framed and hung on the walls of the family home afterwards.

Sita explained that rangoli can be made out of different materials such as flowers, seeds and powders. She showed us a picture of a rangoli artwork she had made of Ganesh the elephant using lentils and seeds.

Smita explained that the powder she uses is made from marble dust. Marble might be seen as a very expensive material in New Zealand, but in India there are whole mountains made out of marble so it is quite cheap to buy. To make the different colours she adds dye powders.

It was then time for us to get down to work and try our hand at rangoli. Smita taught us how to do it step by step. She had made each of us a template of a pohutakawa flower on coloured cardboard. First we had to add a little water to craft glue to thin it out. Then we painted a section of the drawing carefully with glue and sprinkled some coloured powder on it while it was still wet. Then we shook the paper so the surplus glue fell off and lastly we brushed away any stray rangoli powder.

We repeated this process until each area was filled with a different colour. Finally we added some gold glitter highlights to make it look special. It had looked difficult but with Smita's help we discovered that we could achieve a good result.

We all enjoyed Smita's visit to Marcellin very much and we learnt a lot from the knowledge she shared with us.

By Shane D'Silva