Rangoli painting is one of the most deep-rooted traditions during Diwali in India. As far as celebrations go, Diwali (the Festival of Lights) is one of the biggest, in a country that’s not shy to celebrate on a massive scale.
I was spending a few days in the wonderful city of Jodhpur, and went out for a walk camera in hand when the heat eased up in the evening. I ran into this scene by chance. A group of women and girls were outlining these patterns on the ground with chalk, and later they’d colour them with bright, beautiful tones. These paintings are called ‘rangoli’, and are made in many parts of India during festivals like Diwali
Meanwhile, a trio of musicians got ready and started playing traditional tunes in the background. There seemed to be some local press, and later on a group of important-looking people came. They looked like local authorities and participated in a short ceremony where they released floating candles on the pond right next to this area. It was a rather understated affair, but I am grateful that they allowed me to move around freely, soaking up the atmosphere and taking pictures, thereby capturing a slice of Rajasthani traditions and culture.
It’s quite hard to know beforehand what anyone who sees this photo will feel about it, and whether the image will convey a sense of being there. Hopefully this photo will give you a good idea of what it was like.
Local people told me rangoli are not so easy to come by as they used to be, particularly for an outside visitor. The last two times I visited visited Rajasthan during Diwali, I asked around. I wanted to know if there were any neighbourhoods in particular where I could go see and photograph people painting rangoli, or the finished pieces. But no one could give me a definite answer. So I just ended up keeping my eyes peeled every time I walked around, and on that day, it payed off.