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An Indian woman in a sari creates a pattern with colored sand for Diwali

A woman creates a pattern with colored sand for Diwali

All over India, women use colored rice flour or wheat flour, or colored sand, to make patterns on the ground to celebrate holidays like Diwali. People in India call these patterns rangoli After the celebration, they just sweep up and the floor is clean again. You can make your own rangoli to see what it is like.

This is a project for a dry, sunny day – it won’t work in the rain! Start by making the colored powder. You can use flour or sand for the base. Take a box of colored chalk and grind some of each color up in a stone mortar and pestle. Or if you don’t have a mortar, put the chalk in a cloth bag and break it up with a hammer. Or, buy the powdered colors. Add enough of the colored chalk to your base flour or sand to make it brightly colored.

Then use a stick of regular white chalk to draw a pattern on the walkway in front of your house, or on the sidewalk or playground by your house or school. Draw the pattern in solid shapes you can color in, like a stained glass window or a coloring book. Make each space pretty big, as big as the palm of your hand or bigger. If you want more complicated patterns, make stencils (or buy stencils.)

Next fill in the spaces in your pattern with the colored flour or sand. If you make a mistake, just sweep it up and start over. Take pictures before your pretty pattern gets messed up, but don’t worry when people walk on it – getting messed up is just part of the rangoli process. They’re not supposed to last forever, or even for the whole day.

If this is too hard, or it’s too rainy where you are, you can also celebrate Diwali by coloring in Diwali patterns in a coloring book, or just by lighting an oil lamp.

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