Monday, April 23, 2012

consider the ant...

Last year I posted this image on a story at this blog and since then quite a few visitors have come via this image at google. This morning on a whim I went to the google page and found the story which follows. It was found at this post and written by Pooja Jayaram, a student of philosophy.

I had to share it because it visited upon me such captivating images and wonder!

One evening while returning from my college, I saw my 85 year granny learning new Kolam (geometrical line drawings composed of curved loops, drawn around a grid pattern of dots In South India with rice flour) styles from some random Tamil magazine. I asked her why ladies followed this centuries-old tradition even today. My granny responded that it is customary to get up before sunrise, sprinkle water on the mud flooring, swab it with cow dung and draw Kolam.
Ladies coming out of the house experience the early morning breeze which is good for health. They sprinkle water on the mud flooring so that the dust settles and doesn’t enter the house. Cow-dung, which is used for swabbing the floor, acts as a disinfectant. Bending down to draw the kolam is a good exercise for the waist and shoulders. The mixture used to draw it, popularly called Kolam Maave, is rice flour. Kolam is a free hand drawing and is an art. Especially in the Margazhi month of the Tamil calendar special Kolams are drawn and streets of Mylapore (in Chennai) look lovely with Kolams of different colour, shape and design.
Apart from the tradition, there is also a scientific reason behind drawing them. They are believed to produce cosmic positive energies which benefit people residing in the house. Predominately, most kolams are completed with thick, red lines on the periphery. They are called Kaavi/Semman. It adds to the beauty of the Kolam but the reason behind drawing it is that it blocks negativity. It is bordered by two white lines running parallel. These white lines are believed to retain peace and prosperity in the house. Kolam is also a symbol of welcoming people and the absence of a kolam at the doors indicates a mishap in the household.
Most of the designs drawn are with bare fingers using predetermined dots that are arranged in a specific pattern. Later these dots are joined to form different designs. Joining these dots is a tedious job as it requires a lot patience, accuracy and concentration. Drawing Kolam on a daily basis improves one’s concentration power.
Sadly this art is beginning to fade. Gone are those days when ladies used to walk on streets judging which house has drawn the best Kolam. With people now are moving into apartments from independent houses, they are finding it difficult to draw Kolam on marble floors. The kolam doesn’t stay on the flooring and thus, the whole house is full on rice flour mixed with sand. The markets are flooded with metal tubes on which the kolam patterns are already drawn. So people simply fill in the tube with rice flour, drag it on the floor and the kolam is ready. True to my granny’s words…..
Convenience has taken over Tradition.
Pooja Jayaram
Guest Writer
Student of Philosophy | Miranda House

I then found another intriguing post also on this same traditions here.
Flour Kolam in Tamilnadu
image at this post

Quote from the post: 
"The actual significance of making the Kolam design in the Rice flour is that the kolam powder will be a food for the ants and the small insects. When you perform the kolam construction in the sand floor after cleaning the floor, you can find that the ants will be in a queue busy taking the rice flour particles to their holes. This is a great thing to see. For this purpose the Kolam powder is made with the help of the Rice flour." 

Ants that eat Rice Flour Kolam
from same post as image above

Also quoting:
"Ants are one of the great species that teach the concept of saving the food for the future. This particular concept of saving things for the future is very good indeed for the human beings. Ants take the kolam flour that is drawn in front of the house to their holes so that the rice flour that is present in the Kolam powder acts to be the best food for the ants. Moreover not only the ants but also some of the birds feed on the kolam flour. This is the best significance that occurs in drawing of the kolam flour in front of the house." 

found here

I hope you were also captivated. One imagine's the clash of old and new must be very loud in today's India. Seems that nowhere remains untouched by the pace of change. Last week I was amazed, then on second though not so surprised, to read that over this past summer 70,000 seeds were unintentionally brought in to the Antarctica by tourists and people working there.
We are in the midst of such complex changes one can barely keep up ... if we chose to notice. Switching off makes sense... but if we turn our gaze away too long... ALAS!... when you look back it will be different.
 A good week to all!
ps warm thanks to all who visited or left comments at the homage blog... very much appreciated!


Dominique said...

Cette tradition me passionne également, m'intrigue et m'inspire tout à la fois. Merci.
Bonne semaine Sophie

Sophie Munns said...

C'est assez merveilleux oui Dominique!
Je pensais que comme une belle façon de commencer une nouvelle semaine ... aimé que les femmes se lever à l'aube et de saluer la brise d'un jour nouveau et commencer à faire ce rituel ...
et puis l'interprétation des fourmis. Comment tout à fait magnifique de la rêverie poétique dans ce!
Aller bien ... une bonne semaine à vous aussi!

ps hope google translate is accurate!

iNd!@nA said...

google translate is interesting
i suspect possibly not quite accurate. it's quite fun to begin with English, translate [via google] to one language, then another, then back to English

for example
age hath wearied and the years condemned
Alter hat ermüdet Jahre und der Verurteilte
Âge a lassé ans et le délinquant
Age has wearied years and the offender

Sophie Munns said...

LOve it India... you could have a lot of fun that way!

I hold my breathe using GT... but Dominique is still talking to nothing offensive has been accidentally said ... at this point!

Missouri Bend Paper Works said...

Sophie....loved this post. I love the tradition....the dailiness and mindfulness of the practice. Yes, we do hate to see things change, but that too is in the nature of everything. I think if we try to keep things from changing and hold them static, there are unintended consequences....we must go with the flow. I am one that laments the loss of these long-time traditions, but try to keep in mind that those traditions themselves were borne out of change from earlier ways....always moving, always evolving.

Thanks for this post!!
Cheers, P.

Sophie Munns said...

so lovely to hear from you!
Its so true what you say... if you go back far enough you see just how many waves of change humans have by necessity met and survived.

These stories felt so gentle for a monday morning... May you week be a good one!

Caterina Giglio said...

exquisite patterns of beauty and mindfulness... fascinated by this post ...
and I too use GT and I have found that if I keep the sentences simple and stay away from figures of speech, it works quite well.. x

Sophie Munns said...

Hello Cat...
it was such a curious thing to find these two delightful tangents to that image... completely out of the blue!

I suspect I don't use simple enough language... I'm perhaps allowing the reader to have a laugh at the stumbling attempt in their language!

Christina said...

What a fascinating post! And, the kolam are so beautiful!