I have always admired the beautiful Kolams or designs made out of rice flour that our brahmin neighbors used to adorn their entrances. We had a neighbor called Manniamma, who used to put kolams for our homes during festival season and she used to do it so fast, and the designs so intricate, that it was never easy to figure out how she did them.
I remember once, whenI was about 10, she had left over a bit of the kolam powder at our home, and I tried my hand at drawing kolams... the result was a little less skin on three fingers of my right hand.. I just got carried away and the powder did not freely flow through my fingers and I rubbed my fingertips off on the concrete ...!!
Now I have a very sweet neighbour who was all too willing to show me some designs. I have been practising with just pencil on paper, since even the smallest designs are a bit intricate and really beautiful. Even if the modern colourful rangolis require a lot of skill and are really amazing, I have a weakness for the traditional kolams done in rice powder especially because they represent the presence of Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and also the sentiment of providing food for the ants, birds etc....
The starting point of the above kolam is just 16 dots. 4 by 4, equidistant from each other. This was just my first effort and does not look quite right.
The right way to draw the kolam is given here.