Rangoli is one of the most popular art forms in India. It is a form of sandpainting decoration that uses finely ground white powder and colours, and is used commonly outside homes in India.
Rangoli can be wall art as well as floor art. The term rangoli is derived from words rang (colour) and aavalli ('coloured creepers' or 'row of colours'). The origin of rangoli painting is traced to a legend recorded in the Chitralakshana, the earliest Indian treatise on painting. When the son of a Kings high priest died, Brahma, Lord of the universe, asked the king to paint the likeness of the boy so that Brahma could breathe life into him again. This is how, it is believed, the first painting was made. Also, the son of the king painted a portrait of a girl whom the son liked very much, although the king would not let his son see her. Rangoli also became a form of self-portraiture for women.
Chola rulers made extensive use of floor paintings. They are known by different names in different parts of the country; Alpana in Bengal, Aripana in Bihar, Madana in Rajasthan, Rangoli in Gujarat, Karnataka and Maharashtra, Chowkpurana in Uttar Pradesh and Kolam in Kerala and Tamilnadu, Muggu in Andhrapradesh. Some of these, especially many of the North Indian ones like Aalpana more often refer to floor painting with traditional wet color, rather than the powder rangoli more conventional in south India. Rangoli in front of house during Pongal.
Another popular story is that God, in one of his creative episodes, extracted the juice from one of the mango trees as paint, and drew the figure of a woman so beautiful that it put the heavenly maidens to shame. Like Hindu and Buddhist Mandalas, the reason for using powder or sand as a medium for creating Rangoli (and its resulting fragility) is sometimes thought to be a metaphor for the impermanence of life and maya.