9 Types of Rangoli Everyone Can Try

Rangoli (also known as Kolam) is the Indian art of using coloured sand, flowers and even paper quilling to form lovely designs that often incorporate geometric patterns or symbolic flora and fauna. These eye-catching works of art adorn the entryways and courtyards of homes during Deepavali and are hard to miss.

Each household has its own designs that are passed down from one generation to the next, keeping the art form and tradition alive. The art of Rangoli evolves with each generation, so we’ve compiled a mix of traditional and modern types of Rangoli that everyone can try!

1. Joining The Dots

The pulli kolam, or “dotted kolam”, is considered one of the simplest forms and ideal for beginners to pick up. The design starts with dots aligned in a grid. The artist can then choose to join the dots or weave around them to create repeating patterns, latticework, or any other imaginable design with the grid as the base. Sometimes colour is added and the original dotted grid is barely visible in the finished work.

The key to this style is symmetry – important in symbolising universal balance. Dotted kolams often feature geometric and polygonal designs, although more advanced artists will incorporate curved motifs like leaves, flowers, and even animals like birds. For those of us who feel that we’re artistically challenged, this join-the-dots technique is a great way to build confidence before tackling more complex designs!

2. Flower Power

Although rangoli is traditionally made with ground flour or rice, using fresh flowers and leaves has caught on in a big way. Flowers have always been an integral part of all festivals, whether as decorations or as part of religious prayer offerings. They are extremely versatile and can be used whole or separated into loose petals, which are particularly suited to elaborate designs. The natural beauty of a flower rangoli is sometimes complemented by placing candles or diyas in and around the rangoli. With flower power, your rangoli not only looks good, it smells good too.

Some of the most common flowers used in flower rangolis are marigolds, roses, jasmines and lotuses. Varieties that have many petals are great, but remember to choose vibrant and matching colours. If you intend to make a big rangoli, you’ll want to check that your desired flowers are available in bulk, or else risk having an incomplete pattern. Placement is important too; entryways, countertops, or even lining staircases are great – just make sure it’s not a windy spot or they might get blown away!


3. Floating Beauties

Floating or water rangolis are one of the ways that traditional rangoli art has evolved. Attractive and suited to a variety of modern materials, one of the biggest draws of floating rangoli is that it is less time-consuming and easy to clean up.

Often made in a bowl or a large flat pan with high sides, these water-based pieces are especially attractive as table centrepieces or on countertops. With a bit of patience, flower petals and leaves will make for a lovely and eye-catching artwork. For those who are pressed for time, creating painted, beaded, or even glitter designs on any flat and waterproof surface like plastic OHP sheets yields equally beautiful results. To go one step further, simply stick foam sheets under each plastic/paper layer and voila, you have a 3D pop-up floating beauty!

4. Pretty Pulses

Greater environmental awareness about artificial dyes nowadays has prompted a return to natural materials, making pulse (dry grain) rangoli one of the popular sustainable styles. It is typically fully made of edible grains such as kidney beans, green and yellow mung beans, and split peas.

Far from being boring, pulse rangoli beautifully showcases the naturally-occurring range of colours across seed and grain varieties. This form of rangoli is perfect to do with kids too, as large grains can be easier for them to handle. Bonus point? Grains are generally easy to clean up after!

5. Paper Quilling

One of the newer forms of rangoli is quilled or paper filigree rangoli. Quilling is an art form that uses purely paper that is rolled, pinched, looped, and glued together to create shapes and beautiful designs. As with most rangoli, it is made with a few basic shapes and arranged into more complex layers.

Because quilled rangoli is lightweight and can be stuck onto a base, it works well as hanging wall art, floor centrepieces, and even diya decorations. The base can be anything from cardboard to old CDs, and any recycled paper can be used although thicker paper holds the shapes more clearly. Since quilled rangoli is 100% paper, it’s a safe and fun material for a fun Deepavali project with children! All you need to get started is a base, paper strips in colours of your choice, a quilling tool, glue, scissors, patience and a creative mind.

6. Sparkly Kundan

Kundan or rhinestone rangoli is one of the easiest modern rangoli styles to DIY. It’s also perfect for upcycling used materials like old plastic sheets, CDs, shiny string, and even old bangles! The steps are simple – choose a base material to buy or trim to size, glue down the centre kundan piece, and build your design around the centre. You can even make separate pieces for a rearrangeable rangoli. Most shops now sell ready-made kundan rangoli pieces, but hey, if you’ve got time to spare, why not make a unique piece of your own?

7. Fabric Fix

Building on the upcycling theme, old dupattas and other printed fabrics make for innovative modern rangoli designs too. Using a simple paper template, you can cut out repeating shapes and glue the fabric on. Embellish with some contrasting colour kundan, beaded string, a diya or candle, and you have a one-of-a-kind decorative rangoli! Remember to choose your fabrics wisely for this style, because vibrant colours and patterns brighten up the atmosphere of the home while dark ones create a dull and sombre mood.

8. Embellished Borders

In case you thought rangolis always have to be big, round centrepieces, here are some beautiful border styles that might be easier to start off with. Border rangolis are often used to line doorways, wrap around pillars, brighten up corners, and beautify staircases. You can use powder, petals, kundan, or any combination of all of these materials. In corners or places that tend to be a bit darker, accessorising with candles or diyas adds the perfect finishing touch. Use border rangoli as a simple way of transforming those boring structural pillars into a festive conversation starter for your home!

9. Expressive Freehand

Of all the forms of rangoli, the freehand style is the one that best brings out the true skill and technique of a person’s rangoli art. In freehand, it is all about expressing, so you will often see rangolis that break out of the grid and combine a variety of materials. The blend of colours, shapes, detail and control is simply breathtaking. Freehand rangolis are seen in rangoli competitions, with pieces sometimes stretching up to ten or more metres.

While masterful freehand rangoli standards might feel out of reach to those of us who only practice this a few times a year, remember that freehand rangoli is really about our heart and spirit as we create it. For this reason, even a simple welcome rangoli bearing well wishes for the season is a good piece. At the end of the day, regardless of which style of rangoli we choose to do, the process of creating it and beautifying the house should bring us joy and prepare us to usher in the Festival of Lights.

Making rangoli is a great activity for the extended family to enjoy together and to pass down a treasured part of Indian heritage to the next generation. As we gather, let’s also keep our loved ones and ourselves safe by observing safe distancing and health safety measures, even in our homes.