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Bringing back chikku kolams by conveying social messages
One and a half years ago, historian Meenakshi Devaraj attended a program hosted by Tamil Heritage Trust on kolams.
The talk was about the science and maths perspectives of kolams. Meenakshi, who has researched Sangam literature, was intrigued about kolams and did preliminary research on the status of kolams in Tamil Nadu.
During the research, she found that there are many types of kolams and chikku (sikku) kolam that were once popular in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are now vanishing. To popularise chikku kolams, Meenakshi has been drawing chikku kolams that convey various messages.
“It is difficult to draw chikku kolams that have many curved lines around the dots, so people go for a normal kolam or rangoli. Even I wasn’t a big expert in drawing kolams — I was interested mainly in the history of kolams. For the past year, I have been drawing chikku kolams for various occasions and convey socially relevant messages,” says Meenakshi Devaraj.
There are 11 types of koothu(dance) in the early Chola period that is mentioned in Silappatikaram. “I can write a long post about the 11 types of dance. But many in today’s generation might not be interested in reading the entire history. But if the concept is presented diagrammatically, people will be interested in knowing about it. So, I have drawn kolam of the koothu.
When the pandemic broke out, I did kolams conveying the importance of wearing masks, washing hands regularly and so on. Whenever there is an important festival or days, I do kolams based on that,” he adds.
After seeing Meenakshi’s kolams, many have approached her asking for kolam classes. “I am getting a lot of requests to host online classes and am thinking about it. I wanted to research more about the history of kolam and Tamil literature. I have collected a lot of information on kolams — in the future, I might write a book as well,” Meenakshi concludes.