September 09, 2012

Rangoli Carpert on Bangalore's Commercial Street

Can local business support cultural events and help enliven the face of neighbourhoods?

They can.

Ever since I got involved in two major annual events – Mylapore Festival and Madras Day, I have been taking a close look at large cultural events across the country and bringing home ideas and lessons to share.

So on a windy Sunday morning this week, I was at Commercial Street, one of Bangalore’s  shopping hubs for many decades now, to soak in a unique event.

The Shri Vidyaranya Yuvaka Sangha is celebrating its golden jubilee and among the many events that it has planned, was a mega Rangoli Contest. The Sangha has a list of goals – and this event could also get into the Guiness Book of Records!

Hundreds of people, mostly women from across Karnataka had landed in Malleswaram in August to display their creative skills in the prelims of this contest.

Some inner streets of Malleswaram were cordoned off for the event but even as the rangolis changed the face of the streets into patches of vibrant colour and design, there were a few murmurs from residents.

Why did they have to hold a contest on the streets when Bangalore’s large, open playgrounds were just the places for such an event?

The hosts were certainly not keen to disrupt the Sunday life of residents and with tact managed to run the event smoothly.

The Commercial Street Rangoli Carpet, of 100 rangolis was well managed and a treat for thousands of people who streamed to the shopping zone.

Women from Bellary and Mysore, Bangalore and Kolar used most of the three hours they were given to design their best. Intricate, colourful and thematic.

A Kali-ma here, a Lord Vinayaka there, a Kathakali artiste here and a Zen-ish motif there. For me though, two 6ft by 6ft, intricate ‘maavu kolams’ set against earthen brown wash called for a second look.

Here was a nice collaboration of the shop-owners on Commercial Street agreeing to a cultural event on simple terms. It worked well for the businesses too. People walked into the shops after enjoying the rangoli spectacle while some shop owners offered on-the-spot gifts and one restaurant arranged for breakfast packs for the contestants.

The display was left for public viewing till lunchtime and thereafter, the hosts were required to wash clean the carpets of colour.

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