Hinduism Culture

Hinduism Culture & Traditions

ॐ Hindu Of Universe ॐ
“God’s light is within you, It never leaves you.”

Hindu Clothes

Indian clothing is famous because it is colorful and also graceful. Outfits for women are designed to be graceful. While men’s clothes are for the warm climate and comfort. Certain trends in clothing prevail even to date throughout the country.

Women’s clothing:

The traditional Indian clothing for women is the Sari, which can be worn in many different ways. A choli is worn over a sari, which is a blouse that ends just below the bust. The Salwar Kameej is one of the most popular costumes. The Salwar Kameez too has had many designs. One of the other traditional dresses is the Lehangas.

The sari:

The Sari is still so popular even after centuries because it has a sense of luxury and sexuality to it. Even though it is a single length of material, the sari is a very versatile garment. It is a rectangular piece of cloth, which is sometimes five and usually six yards in length. The style, color and texture of this cloth vary. But the most traditional ones are the handloom or hand woven saris. Now a -days it is made from cotton, silk or one of the several man-made materials.

The choli:

It is a tightly fitted blouse that ends just below the bust and is worn under a sari. It can be long sleeved or even short sleeved. The choli came developed as a form of clothing in 10th century AD. The cholis first used were only front covering; the back was usually bare. Blouses of this kind are still common. Today, there are a number of styles of cholis which are inspired by other cultures as well.

The salwar kameej:

Another commonly used attire of women in India is the salwar-kameez. This dress was used in the northern part of India as a comfortable and especially in Kashmir and Punjab. Now it is very popular in all regions of India. Salwars are loose trousers like pants drawn tightly to the waist and the ankles. Over the salwar, they wear long and loose clothing known as a kameez. Occasionally women wear churidar instead of a salwar. A churidar is like the salwar but is tight fitting at the hips, thighs and ankles.

The lehanga:

Apart from the sari’s, women in some regions wear a kind of pleated skirt known as the ghagra or lehanga. This skirt is tied around the waist and thus leaves the back and midriff bare. This dress also has a choli. The choli is covered by a length of cloth known as “odhni” or “dupatta”.

Men’s traditional clothing:

The traditional attire of men includes: Sherwani, Lungi, Dhoti and Kurta Pajama.

The sherwani:

It is a coat like garment, worn by men, which is tight and close to the body. It is usually knee-length or longer and opens in front with the help of buttons. Below this men wear a garment, which is baggy and wide at the top but tight around the legs and ankles. It is considered as a very elegant dress for men and mostly worn only during ceremonies.

The lungi:

The lungi had originated in the south and is still common there. Today men and women wear it in the same fashion. It is simply a long length of material worn around the thighs like a sarong.

The dhoti:

A dhoti is a longer version of a lungi. It has an additional length of material to be pulled up between the legs.

The kurta-pyjama:

The Kurta is a knee length shirt, which is worn, mostly in white or pastel colors. Elderly people usually wore it, because they looked decent in it. Today you find Kurtas made out of the most varied colors and fabrics. Pyjama-are nothing but loose trousers which you tie around the waist with a string. It is traditionally white in color.

Hindu Foods

In Hinduism food is considered as God (Brahman) and said to be a part of Brahman as it nourishes the entire physical, mental and emotional aspects of a human being. It is considered as a gift from God and should be treated respectfully. Here is a brief description about the nuances of Hindu Food.

In Vedas food is acknowledged with the rudiments of the earth. The Prasna Upanishad identifies food with the Lord of Creation. According to Manu, “Food that is always worshipped gives strength and manly vigor but eaten irreverently, it destroys them both.”

Food should be eaten in religious attitude for the purpose survival and giving strength to the body to practice self control and austerities, but not for the sake of pleasure. This is the concept behind Hindu Food.

Hindu Food and Vegetarianism

According to Hinduism “You are what you eat” is a concept behind a man and his food habits as it decides our mental growth as well as physical growth and well being. Eating food by killing animals is said to block mental and spiritual growth. This is the reason why Hinduism emphasizes on vegetarianism. Another reason it believes that killing innocent and helpless animals for the purpose of food is a bad karma that brings harmful consequences not only to the man who is eating but to the entire planet.

Restriction and Hindu Foods

  • Beef is strictly forbidden as a food in Hinduism. Cow is considered as mother in Hinduism. But dairy products like milk, butter and yogurt are said to increase spiritual purity.

  • Pork is strictly forbidden food in Hinduism.

  • Food obtained from any animal is restricted.

  • Certain foods are prohibited according to the geographical location.

  • Some pious Hindus even avoid over stimulating foods such as onions, garlic, and red coloured (blood-coloured) foods such as red lentils and tomatoes.

  • To avoid violence or pain, vegetarianism is advocated.

  • Meat is not always prohibited in the Laws of Manu but they declare that ‘no sin is attached to eating flesh… but abstinence… bears greater fruits’.

Fasting and Hindu Food:

Hindus fast on special occasions (festivals or holy days) as a mark of respect to their god or as a part of their penance. At certain times in a year like the Dusshera they do not eat food for days together. There is a special ceremony to mark a baby’s eating solid food, which in south is called as annaprasanna.

Charity and Hindu Food:

Serving food to the poor and the needy, or a beggar according to Hindus is good karma. Food is associated with religious activity. Food is still offered to God during some of the religious ceremonies. On specific days in a year food is offered to departed souls. Food is also distributed to people at the end of many religious ceremonies. Many Hindu temples distribute food freely every day to the visiting devotees.

Hindu Music

Hindu music is also called as sangeet. Music is believed to have mythological roots and is associated with the heavenly singers, called the Gandharvas. The first person to practice this art form was Narada. The oldest texts associated with music are the Sama Veda, which consists of melodies, which are recited, in the form of hymns during ritual sacrifice. Music is considered as a means of moral or spiritual connection rather than mere entertainment. There are three key elements in the music discipline

  • The guru – coming in parampara where the disciple becomes the successor

  • Vinaya – humility, this is one of the key ingredients expected from a disciple

  • Sadhana -practice of what is being taught regularly

Hindu music is based on two main things called

  • Raga, the melodic scale

  • Tala, the rhythm

Both Raga and Tala chosen carefully invokes the right mood (rasa). In discussing the aesthetics of dance and music, Bharata Muni coined the concept of nava-rasa, (nine principle “moods” or “tastes.)” During the Bhakhi movement, emphasis was on spiritual emotion, so worship was integrated into music. It was considered not only adoration but a means towards a higher consciousness. Tansen is also another important person remembered because he was believed to perform miracles through his singing.

Common instruments used for Hindu music includes drums, such as the tables mridangas, the manjira and the harmonium. Classical instruments include, tabla, include the flute, vina, sitar, sarangi, santoor, and shenai

The music of India is considered monodic. Its tone is divided into 22 segments called srutis. The basic scales in Hindu music are sa-grama. Other scales are derived from the basic srutis by the sharping or flatting of some of the tones. Melody is based on the system of ragas, and is used as the basis for improvisation.There are many ragas, and there are sets of rules for improvisation in that raga.

Each raga is attributed with certain ethical and emotional properties, and is also associated with a certain season and a certain time of day. Ragas are also associated with magical powers. For example if a raga associated with darkness is sung in the middle of the day then it can even bring darkness upon the earth. In the performance of the ragas, lots of importance is attached to the gamakas, (ornaments) of music. Music is based on very complex rhythmic patterns, called talas, which are combined in the most innovative ways.

The oldest instrument is the Drum and there are several types in it. The most important instrument is the Veena. A similar instrument is the sitar, the most commonly used instrument in India. In addition, various types of bagpipe, lute, fiddle, oboe, trumpet, flute, cymbal, and gong have been known in India. Many of the instruments are of Islamic origin.

Hindu Art

Hinduism is a conglomeration of a wide variety of beliefs and Infact, it is unique in its tolerance of diversity. Roots of this religion have been since 4000 years in India, and as it developed it absorbed many beliefs and practices of various kinds of people. Assimilation happened differently for different parts of India.

The Hindu religion is a great repository of heterogeneity of beliefs. Worship of different kinds of deities is a very personal choice, and that aspect of Hindu practice is reflected in the number of different Hindu temples and their sculptural beliefs.

A man who has no knowledge of music, literature, or art is believed to be no better than a beast. Hindu’s always believed art to be a key to salvation or ultimate release that is sought by all good Hindus. There is a kind of a holistic feel about Indian art; it is a unity of many forms and artistic experiences.

Different forms of hindu art:

Art rules every part of Indian life, and is found in every reference of ancient Indian Civilization. Indian art is considered a disciplined style of worship and self-restraint. Hindu art can also be thought of as India’s oldest indigenous science.

Sometimes lord Shiva, is visually represented as “King of Dance” or Nataraja. This form of Shiva is considered as the most remarkable symbol of divine powers, which was ever created by Indian artistic genius.

Indian artists have frozen the beauty of human bodies in various shapes with the help of stone and bronze for around 5,000 years. It is difficult to name only a single person or persons among the geniuses who brought gods to life in places like the Ellora, Ajanta, Elephanta and Karli caves.

The transition from cave excavation and carvings on the Hindu temples are depicted dramatically and powerfully at Ellora. Ellora is an entire mountain which has been literally shaped out over many centuries by devoted artists. These artists created and “extracted” Lord Shiva’s Mount Kailas temple within that enormous rock dome.

Ellora’s Kailas cave temple is still one of the few beautiful monuments of art and Hindu devotion. The carvings on some of the walls and pillars is magnificent. No other work on stone or in any other material are as fine. But still what remains a mystery is what tools have been used to make the very hard and tough stone as it is to be seen on the present day.

Indian art is related to Hindu religion and philosophy. It is hard to appreciate the Indian art unless one has insight into the ideals that govern the Indian minds. In the Indian art there is mostly a religious element, a looking beyond.

The beautiful carvings of the Hindu temples, the beautiful wall paintings of Ajanta, or the intriguing art of cave sites and the sophisticated temple building tradition, the Indian Hindu culture offers a good visual feast.

Introduction to Rangoli

The basic Sanskrut word is rangavalli. A design created by allowing the powder of a special soft white stone to flow freely, with a pinch of the hand is called Rangoli. Rangoli is an art which precedes sculpture and painting. It is both an auspicious and a preliminary necessity in any religious ritual. It is a practice to draw Rangoli at the site of any auspicious religious ritual such as a holy festival, a religious festival, an auspicious function, ritualistic worship, a vowed religious observance, etc. When performing the act of moving lit lamps about the face for someone (arti) too, Rangoli is drawn around the wooden seat (pat) on which he is seated and also in front of him. At public functions also during a meal Rangoli is drawn around a wooden seat and the plate or leaf on which the meal is served. During Diwali various Rangoli designs are drawn at the doorstep and decorated with different colours. In the ancient times it was a practice to sweep and sprinkle every doorstep with cowdung everyday and draw Rangoli. Ground smeared with cowdung but not decorated with Rangoli is said to be inauspicious.

2. What is Rangoli made of?
Rangoli is a coarse powder obtained by pounding a cleavable and lustrous mineral (shirgola). In the Konkan region (near Maharashtra and Goa states in India) the husks of rice are burnt and the white ash obtained is used as Rangoli.

3. How is Rangoli executed?
A pinch of Rangoli powder is taken using the index finger and thumb. As the Rangoli is a coarse powder of special soft white stone, it can flow freely when slowly released from the pinch of index finger and thumb.
To make a Rangoli on floor, following steps are used –

A. The surface on which the Rangoli is to be drawn is prepared by cleaning it thoroughly. Traditionally, the surface was smeared with cow dung, and after it dried, Rangoli was drawn on it at specific locations. In the ancient times it was a practice to daily sweep and sprinkle every doorstep with cow dung and draw Rangoli.

B. A design or auspicious symbols or signs are selected for drawing.

C. After the selection, the required numbers of points are created on the floor using the Rangoli.

D. Then these points are joined with the appropriate design shapes, lines, curves, etc.

Lastly, colours are filled in the Rangoli as per the design recommendations.

4. Where is the Rangoli drawn?
Rangoli is generally drawn on mud floor, cow dung smeared floor, tiled floor, etc.

A. When performing the act of moving lit lamps about the face for someone (Arati) too, Rangoli is drawn around the wooden seat (pat) on which he is seated and also in front of him.

B. At public functions also during a meal Rangoli is drawn around a wooden seat and the plate or leaf on which the meal is served.

C. During Diwali various Rangoli designs are drawn at the doorstep and decorated with different colours.

D. After smearing the ground with cow dung one should not forget to draw at least four lines of Rangoli on it. Ground smeared with cow dung but not decorated with Rangoli is said to be inauspicious.

5. Why Rangoli is drawn?
When sweeping the floor or smearing with cow dung, subtle lines are created on it. These possess certain frequencies. As these lines are irregular, their vibrations too are irregular. These are harmful to the body, eyes and mind as well. To overcome these unfavourable frequencies if cones and auspicious symbols are drawn systematically with Rangoli on the swept or smeared floor; the ill-effects of sweeping and smearing are overcome and favourable results are obtained.

6. What are the various types of Rangoli?
6A. Rangoli is of two main types

6A1. Form dominant: In this type of Rangoli, lines, cones and circles are drawn proportionately.

6A2. Ornamental: In this type of Rangoli, importance is given to flowers, leaves, trees, creepers, animals and birds. This Rangoli is more appealing than the form dominant one.

6B. A conch, Swastik, Moon, Sun

6C. Two parallel lines of Rangoli are drawn. In the middle of the lines two curved lines are drawn so as to create a chain. This chain represents a serpent couple.

6D. The eight petals represent the universe with eight directions, as well as the sun and Shri Vishnu. The lotus is symbolic of Shri Lakshmi as well as the energy for procreation, so it is given special importance in the worship of Shri Vishnu.

6E. Besides Rangolis with a one-sided auspicious emblem (ekalingatobhadra), eight-sided propitious emblems (ashtalingatobhadra) and those which are auspicious on all sides (sarvatobhadra) are also drawn pertaining to religious acts. In this type, a big square is divided into small squares. The small squares are then filled with vermilion (kumkum) in a specific manner so as to create the form of Deity Shiva’s linga. These rangolis are seen in the Shaiva sect.

6F. Another type of Rangoli is drawn with the help of dots. First the dots are made on the ground and then vertical and transverse lines are drawn joining these dots so as to create various figures such as a peacock, a tortoise, a lotus, a creeper, etc. Though this Rangoli with dots is complicated, it is attractive.

7. Spiritual significance of Rangoli
In Hindu Dharma, Rangoli is drawn during every festival, auspicious occasion, religious rituals, etc. All the festivals, auspicious occasions, rituals, etc. are associated with one of Deity principles. During these days, the Divine principle of a specific Deity is present in the atmosphere in a larger proportion on the day of the respective festival or is attracted to the venue where religious rituals of that Deity are being performed. In order to attract maximum Deity principle, rangolis that attract and transmit respective Deity principle are drawn so that everyone derives spiritual benefits from it.

According to a Principle in Spirituality that ‘word, touch, taste, form, smell and their energy co-exist,’ even if a small variation is made in the form and colour of the Rangoli, its vibrations change. The booklet ‘Sattvik Rangolis’ illustrates various sattvik designs of rangolis which attract and transmit various Deity Principles such as – Shri Ganesh, Shri Rama, Shrikrushna, et. al.

The main feature of sattvik Rangoli is that due to transmittance of Deity Principle, the devotees get various anubhutis (spiritual experiences) of Shakti (Divine Energy), Bhav (spiritual emotion), Chaitanya (Divine Consciousness), Anand (Bliss) and Shanti (Serenity).

A maximum of 10% of the Deity’s Principle can be attracted by these rangolis. Rangolis available elsewhere contain -1 to +1% (negative or positive) Principle.

What is Rangoli? History, Purpose, Scientific Reason and Importance of Rangoli

Rangoli is an art form that is prominently known for its cultural and historic significance in India. History of rangoli, importance of rangoli and its scientific reason finds its roots in the Vedic and ancient times of India. It is an intrinsic part of Indians’ life so much so that no festival or prominent life occasion here happens without this beautiful and captivating art form.

During festivals, they don a grandeur form and amp up the beauty of already beautiful Indian homes. As we move on, we shall delve deep into the various aspects of this beautiful Indian floor art. We have also included tips to draw rangoli easy and many types of rangoli designs with dots and without dots.

History of Rangoli
Rangoli finds its roots in the Vedic times of Hinduism. Also, according to many researchers, this art form dates back to the times of the caveman era.

Researchers found that early man in the prehistoric times believed that the five elements influenced every way of human life:

Soil, and

To protect themselves from the evil and negative energies, early humans used to draw intricate patterns in geometric shapes to attract positive cosmic power.

Many designs found in the Indus Valley and Harappa regions provided proof that earlier civilizations also used such designs in various forms. While some symbolized Talismic energies, others were used as a form of protection of homes and villages from negative energies.

The modern designs have many straight lines and modern shapes. The first forms predominantly contained the elements of nature such as the Sun, Fire, trees, birds, animals, and flowers. Motifs like Swastika, crosses, circles, snakes, and Goddesses existed in cave form paintings in ancient India. One can find their usage in the modern-day designs too.

Mention of Rangoli in Ancient Indian Scripts
The mention of this art was made in many significant ancient scripts of India.

Natyashastra, for instance, the Sanskrit treatise for the Indian arts, drafted by Bharata Muni, mentions them. This scripture was drafted during the period of 200 B.C. to 200 A.D. As per this book, before artists performed an art on the stage, one symmetrical mandala adorned with colors and flowers was drawn on the stage. Then the Gods were worshipped and invoked to occupy their places on the Mandala.

Even today, when beginning a traditional puja or worship, it is a common practice to draw a design of an eight-petaled lotus flower on a cleaned wooden platform. It is decorated with turmeric, flowers, and vermilion, and Gods are worshipped and invoked.

Mention of Rangoli in Ancient Hindu Texts
The holy epics of Ramayana, Bhagavata, and Mahabharata have mentioned the prominence of this art in various instances.

Mention of Rangoli in Ramayana
The story of Sita Mata being kidnapped by Ravan is well known to most of us. Before leaving her Sister-in-Law unprotected and alone in the hut in the forest, Lakshmana draws a circle of power around the hut and asks Sita Mata not to cross it and come outside. But Sita Mata unintentionally crosses it and the rest is history.


According to folk tales, this circle that Lakshman draws is a form of Rangoli with divine powers. According to Ramayana, Lord Rama killed Ravan at Dasara and Return to Ayodhya with Sita Mata on Diwali.

Also, in Sundarakanda, where the description of Lord Vibhishana comes up, the mention of this art in his kingdom and their beauty emerges.

Mention of Rangoli in Mahabharata
The story about Subhadra And Lord Krishna tell the importance of this visual art.

Once, in the land where Subhadra, the sister of Lord Krishna resided, there was a celebration on an Ekadashi day that needed the playing of drums and Tabor.

It so happened that the cover of the drums and the sticks of tabor was damaged. The king ordered that whoever did not follow the Sankha Chakra Gopadma ritual on that year shall be deskinned and their skin be used as the covering of the drum. Their bones shall be used as the sticks of the tabor.

Everyone in the town, except Subhadra, performed this ritual that year. Struck with fear and guilt, she ran to her brother’s help.

Lord Krishna then suggested she clean the house and the cowshed, draw beautiful patterns of a swastika, Sankha, Chakra, Gada, Padma, leaves, flowers, sugarcane, etc. on the cleaned floor and decorate them with flowers, precious stones, and powdered gold and silver.

Sri Krishna also instructed her to draw a cow shape on the floor and fill the stomach place with 33 lotus flowers and worship it and circumambulate it 33 times. He assured that by doing these with devotion, she shall be freed from the sins of not performing the ritual and also can be freed from the punishment. It is still this practice of GoPadmavrata that is practiced in Maharashtra.

Mention of Rangoli in Bhagavata
Gopikas were ardent worshippers of Lord Krishna. They breathed and lived Krishna at every moment.

It was once when Sri Krishna went out of the town, Gopikas missed him intensely and started to draw his exact form on a clean surface and decorated it with colors and flowers.

They used to see him in that art form and thus used to feel that Krishna was with them all the time.

The Birth of Urvashi Story
According to the scripture Vishnudharmottara, when Sage Narayana was deeply in penance, the apsaras began to appear in front of him to distract him. Angered sage wanted to give a lesson to the apsaras and drew the shape of a beautiful woman from the juice of the mangos from the trees nearby.

On seeing the beauty of shape, the apsaras felt ashamed and left the place. The sage gave life to that beautiful shape of women, who was none other than the Apsara Urvashi.

The Legend of Chitra Lakshana
Once upon a time, there lived a priest and his son in a kingdom. They both were highly revered and respected by the whole kingdom, including the king. Unfortunately, the son of the priest died and the whole kingdom was left in grief. They started praying to Lord Brahma, the Creator of the Universe.

Lord Brahma who was astonished at their love towards the son of the priest, appeared before them. He instructed them to draw the picture of the priest’s son. The people abided by his instructions with devotion and drew exactly the portrait of the son using natural colors and flours on cleaned land.

Lord Brahma then gave life to the portrait and brought back the son to life. It was then the people started drawing portraits and shapes in front of their homes to please Gods for happiness.

Relation between Rangoli and Margazhi month
These hindu art designs are given immense prominence especially in the month of Margasira. In Tamilnadu, this month is revered and dedicated to the worship of Lord Vishnu and Andal Amman.

The story behind Andal Amman and Lord Vishnu is well known. In the 8th century, there was a devotee of Lord Vishnu in the region of Tamilnadu. He had no children for long and prayed immensely for a baby. Then, by the grace of Lord Vishnu, he was gifted with a daughter.

Daily during the worship of Lord Vishnu, her father would ask her to weave flower garland for the same. This little girl, with innocence, used to weave the garland and wear it and test it for length and fragrance before submitting it for worship.

One day, her father found a hair strand in the garland and came to know about her practice. He was upset with guilt as it is a sin to offer to God what we have tested and tried. But Lord Vishnu appeared in the dreams of Vishnuchitta and consoled that those garlands are acceptable for him.

The girl, at the age of 15, used to consider Lord Vishnu as her husband and prayed for him during the month of Margasira (the month of Mid December to Mid-January). Thus, she was considered as the girl who was known to gain the heart of Lord Vishnu.

Thus, it is a norm for unmarried girls to wake up early during Margasira and adore their house fronts with beautiful designs in a wish to obtain good husbands. A good rangoli design is a symbol of Goddess Lakshmi and is worshipped as her other form.

The Thiruppavai is a Tamil devotional poem attributed to the female poet-saint Andal a manifestation of Lord Vishnu).

Scientific reason behind Rangoli
Rangolis are intrinsic lines and shapes drawn with immense talent and attention. The secret in drawing rangoli designs easy is in their drawing lies in the joining dot to dot without any breakage or deformation of the symmetry and the shape.

A closer look at the science behind rangoli reveals many intriguing facts. Modern science proved that geometric patterns can evoke positive vibrations. The study of such science behind the patterns, Cymatics, proved that there is immense science hidden behind the designs drawn by Hindus in front of their houses.

If one has noticed traditional designs, some patterns appear frequently. There is a hidden scientific reason behind Rangoli with dots.

For example, the curved patterns that join the dots symbolize the infinite nature of the universe. Such patterns also resemble the wave harmonics of the sound. The world has already recognized the potential of sound waves in treating many ailments including depression and mental disorders.

Thus, the scientific reason behind Rangoli implies that these art designs are visual sound and energies.

Why Indians draw Rangoli?
When one crosses such geometric patterns in front of the house while entering the house, their negative energies get disseminated and they enter the house with positive vibrations. Similarly, when one sees the freshly drawn designs before heading out to work in the morning, they can get the energy that drives them throughout the day.

This is the reason why Indians draw Rangoli. And also, why orthodox families of India believe that it is important to draw them in front of the houses before their men head out to work in the morning.

Another reason why Indians draw Rangoli is when guests enter the house with beautiful designs, their spirits will be boosted and they find a warm welcome as they enter our house.

Talking about the science behind rangoli, according to Neuro-science, the impact of visual patterns on the mind is drastic. They can hit the neural circuitry, imbibe positive emotions, and stimulate the brain. Various researchers who gave their talks on this topic at TED talks and neuroscience researchers stressed the positive energies of these art forms.

The spiritual significance of Rangoli

There are various types of rangolis that are drawn in different patterns. The scientific reason behind rangoli is that they can evoke many spiritual experiences. Each of the different types of Rangoli has its scientific reason and spiritual meaning behind it.

The lines forms that are usually drawn in Southern India and Tamilnadu are known to boost the Bhav emotion of spirituality.

The Lotus forms that are drawn before the start of pujas and worship are known for their Chaitanya or energy evoking.

The designs in symmetry and square-shaped are proven for their energies that cause Ananda or bliss in humans.

The underlying principle behind rangoli is called the Divinity principle. It imparts related spiritual feelings to the devotees and people around the design. The Sri Chakra, the ultimate powerful yantra of Hinduism is also the form of rangoli that contains immense cosmic power.

Rangoli practice in India
Rangolis are also called Kolam in South India. India is known for its amazing cultural habits that have many hidden secrets in strengthening social and cultural bonds. They are mainly known to be the arena of women.

Women used to get up early before the sunrise and clean the house fronts with water. In some villages, remote places, and places like valparai, people sprinkle the water mixed with cow dung. Once the water dries, they start drawing beautiful patterns, without any gaps or breakages while joining the dots.

Science behind Rangoli

They are usually drawn with rice flour or rice powder. They serve as food for insects and birds. Thus, there lies a message that we should care for other living beings on this Earth.

To draw kolams, women get up early before dawn and do their work. This habit of waking up before the sunrise makes them healthy and wise.

Hindu texts always gave enough proof to depict the greatness of women in designing and guiding their family and children. Drawing kolams in the early morning is a way to strengthen a woman both physically and spiritually.

When drawing kolams, proper care is taken not to bring out any breakages or distorted forms in the designs. Most women would never accept a distorted shape as rangoli and will think no more to clean the whole place again and start afresh. This is because any breakages or distorted forms attract evil energies that are present in the space.

While positive and symmetric forms are a way to invite Gods and positive energies. Therefore, while drawing kolam, immense care is taken to see that the shape is symmetric with no gaps of any sort. This care is taken even while filling the colors too for the same reason.

When women draw kolams and fill colors, they do not use any tools except fingers. This is a form of Mudra technique that helps boost the spiritual stamina of women.

Social and Cultural Significance of Rangoli
Women usually pair up to draw bigger kolams during festivals and occasions. This strengthens their bonds. Also, they plan carefully for the design, the colors to be filled, and try to bring out their best rangoli beating the other women in the locality. This is a healthy way to imbibe sportiveness and strengthen the cultural bonds among women.

In many Indian families, kolams are a lot more than just art forms. Every family will have its designs that are being passed on from generations to the next. Some families never reveal the secrets behind how they draw so intricate patterns with ease and perfections. They take it as their cultural pride and only pass the secrets to their daughters and daughters in law who are socially their heirs.

Diwali Rangoli designs
The drawing of kolam changes from occasion to occasion. While for modern festivals like New Year, the designs reflect joy and happiness, for festivals like Dussehra and Diwali, the designs vary and reflect the occasion. This is why we find many unique Diwali rangoli designs, Sankranti rangoli designs, and Dasara rangoli designs all separate and different from one another.

While Diwali designs have diyas and traditional patterns in them, Dussehra designs come with Durga Mata and her power symbols. In Sankranti designs, you can see the inclusion of kites, Pongal pots, Sun, farmers, harvest, etc in the designs. On similar lines, many festivals will have their unique designs.

How did the name rangoli originate?
The name Rangoli originated from the term Rangavalli of Sanskrit. Rangavalli means creepers in beautiful colors. Thus, this rangavalli slowly transitioned into the term that is widely in use now.

What is rangoli called in different states of India?
Though the origin and the practice are the same, rangoli is called with different names in various states of India.

Andhra Pradesh – Muggu

Bihar – Aripana

Chhattisgarh – Chauk Purna

Gujarat – Sathiya

West Bengal – Alpana

Karnataka – Rangavali

Kumaon region of Himalayas – Aipan or Alokathap

Tamilnadu – Kolam

Rajasthan – Mandana

Orissa – Osa

Kerala – Poovidal or Kolam

Tips to draw rangoli easy

The floor is first cleaned before drawing the design. The cleaning is done usually with water or wet cloth depending on the type of the floor. Then designs are drawn with chalk pieces, muggu rayi, chalk powder, rice husk ash, rice powder, or rice grains, flowers, etc. depending on the local traditions. During Diwali times and also on special occasions, people decorate muggulu with oil lamps.

First clean the floor so that there are no impurities and stones, etc.

Then sprinkle water to make it wet. If the floor is granite or concrete or cement-based, you can mop with a wet cloth to make it wet.

Draw a basic outline with powders or chalk pieces.

When using powder, take a little amount of muggu powder in between your thumb and forefinger. Slowly release the powder and draw the design without any breakages.

Start filling the colors from the center of the muggu and coming towards the outer edges. This way you will lessen the chances of design damage and color mix mishaps.

Ensure that colors are filled in every column and shape and there are no gaps towards the borders.

Once the whole design is filled with colors, give a second outline with powder or chalk once again to give the kolam a comprehensive look.

You can add smooth sand, salt, or muggu powder into colors to make them flow freely while filling the colors.

Some people also fill the shapes and muggu with wet colors mixed in water.

Whatever the form you choose, it is best to practice the design on a paper and color filling technique before you draw on the big day.

Where should you draw rangoli?
They are primarily drawn on the floor that welcomes one into the house such as verandahs and in front of the gates. They are also drawn in backyards at Tulasi Kota, and in the central portion of the house as per Vastu. People also draw muggulu or kolams in the puja rooms and kitchen platforms. They can be drawn anywhere as per Vastu to invite positivity and good energy.

When are rangolis not drawn?
In India, people do not draw them in their houses during mourning. Thus, it is considered for a house to not have rangoli on normal days, as it signifies a bad omen and is considered inauspicious.

Modern Rangoli designs and culture
India has been protecting this kolam culture with great care. One can witness muggulu competitions in colleges and schools especially on occasions like on teacher’s day celebration which is a great way to teach their significance to the next generations.

Rangolis these days are drawn to reflect the social practices, achievements, and any other themes that can be conveyed using the art form. Kolam or muggu is thus a way of expressing a topic with visual impact too.

Modern kolams are drawn using many devices such as stencils, tubes for color filling, etc. This is a good way to modernize the artform. However, the secrets behind their practice should be taught to the children so that they appreciate cultural practices.

What countries are Rangoli designs popular?
This practice has been in existence in many countries in various forms. For instance, in Africa, Australia, etc. there were proof that their ancestors used to practice this art for various reasons. However, it is in India that this practice is still in use and that is what is making this culturally rich land more beautiful!

ed from India

Where is rangoli usually drawn?
Rangoli is drawn upon the ground or floor.

In which festival is rangoli made?
Rangoli are majorly drawn during Diwali festive, but now it’s made on all festivals

When was rangoli art invented?
It’s believed rangoli art was invented 5,000 years ago during the Aryan period.

Why Do We Draw Rangoli? – The Story in Hindu Religion

The story which explains why do we draw Rangoli is explained the Hindu Puranas. Hindus draw Rangoli daily in front of their homes and some people draw it only during auspicious occasions.

The story is associated with the churning of the ocean by Devas and Asuras. Numerous items appeared during the churning of the ocean. When Goddess Lakshmi appeared from the churning, she requested Bhagvan Vishnu for a house to reside.

Vishnu suggested her to reside in a house that where the entrance is sprinkled with cow dung (entrance is pasted with cow dung) and decorated with Rangoli.

From that day onwards people began to draw Rangoli to invite Goddess Lakshmi into their homes.

Some Puranas also state that Alakshmi, or goddess of misfortune, appeared during the churning of ocean and she also demanded a house. Bhagvan Vishnu asked her to reside in those houses that are dirty and where they do not draw rangoli in front of the entrances.

Significance of Rangolis During Diwali
Diwali is touted as a festival of lights. However, colours also play a big role in this festival. Houses are freshly painted and adorned with a multitude of decorations. People buy new clothes and gifts for their family and friends. Colours are most noticeable though in the traditional rangoli patterns that grace the entrance of every home.

About Rangoli

Rangoli is a timeless tradition that is followed all over India. Rangoli is also known as Alpana, Aripoma, or Kolam. It is an ancient art, practiced by almost all households. In many cases, designs are passed down through generations with some of them being hundreds of years old.

The word ‘Rangoli’ is said to have been derived from the words ‘Rang’ and ‘Aavalli’ which refers to a row of colours. Rangoli designs and colours vary between different regions but they all follow some basic patterns. A Rangoli usually has a geometrical structure that is also symmetrical. The design patterns often consist of natural elements like animals, flowers, etc.

Rangoli at Diwali

Diwali is celebrated, primarily to herald the coming of the Goddess Lakshmi. Prayers are offered to her, asking for her blessings in the form of wealth. As such, a Rangoli design is created at the entrance of the house, not only to welcome the guests that visit, but also the Goddess herself. Rangoli patterns are usually made using coloured chalk, rice powder, and crushed limestone.

There is no limit to how big a Rangoli can be. Most Rangolis are the same size as a doormat placed at an entrance. These Rangolis are especially popular among residents of city buildings, where space is a constraint. For larger houses like bungalows, it is not uncommon to find an entire courtyard filled with a colourfully designed Rangoli.

The variety in patterns and the difficulty levels for a Rangoli is largely dependent on the talents and skills of the person making the Rangoli. A Rangoli is always made by hand and all designs are carved out using the fingers. A line is usually drawn using a single finger, like a pencil. In some cases, a pattern may be outlined using dotted movements, which are joined together at the end. Once a pattern is formed, the desired colours are filled in.

Rangoli Patterns

A Rangoli drawn during Diwali usually follows a certain theme. The central design or motif is symbolic and represents a deity or the main concept of the theme. The unity of man and it could also refer to a heart or a wheel nature can be shown by drawing natural elements like birds, snakes, fish, etc. Another common theme for a Rangoli is a celestial one, using symbols like the sun, moon, signs of the zodiac, etc. as the central motif.

A Rangoli design usually has a geometric shape, which is supposed to denote the infiniteness of time. A Rangoli is also bordered by a lotus design, to represent the Goddess Lakshmi. The lotus is also symbolic for the beginning of life. When drawn as an outline, it could also refer to a heart or a wheel.

Rangolis in Different States

Rangoli patterns vary in different Indian states. A basic Rangoli would usually consist of two interfacing triangles. These are drawn to symbolise the Goddess of knowledge, Saraswati. A twenty-four-petal lotus border outlines the triangles. At the four corners of the border, tiny footprints are drawn, which represent Lakshmi’s footprints.

In the northern parts of Bihar, Lakshmi’s footprints are drawn on the doorstep, with the toes pointing towards the entrance of the house. A typical Rangoli drawn in Andhra Pradesh, has an eight petal lotus which is formed by a variety of geometric patterns. This lotus is called ‘Ashtadal Kamal’. In Tamil Nadu, an Eight-Pointed star, referred to as ‘Hridaya Kalam’, replaces the eight-petal lotus. This means the lotus of the heart. Gujarat itself is said to have almost a thousand variations of the lotus that are drawn during Diwali.

No matter the design, Diwali would be incomplete without the traditional Rangoli to welcome guests, both divine and human. Rangolis are drawn in households throughout the country. In many cases, the drawing of the Rangoli is a family tradition and is a time for togetherness.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Related to Rangoli

Take a quick look at the frequently asked questions (FAQs) related to Rangoli.

What is Sanskar Bharati Rangoli?

Sanskar Bharati Rangoli is very popular in Maharashtra which is drawn in a free hand style. It is mainly drawn in circular form. It is drawn in big as well as small circles. The way of drawing this style of Rangoli is a little different. In the beginning colours are spread on the floor and then design is made with white Rangoli on these colours. These designs include different holy symbols depicting Indian culture, rituals, customs and traditions. People also use different geometric shapes to make it look even more attractive. Sanskar Bharati Rangoli is an epitome of Indian Culture and tradition which represents the Sanskars of India.

One of the benefits of drawing this Rangoli is that it can be drawn in very less time and anyone can draw it. Therefore, this style of Rangolis are drawn in big areas and spaces not only during Diwali festival but also during many other festivals. Different vibrant colours can be used for making this Rangoli which can make it very attractive. Not only in the circular shape but also it can be drawn in square or rectangular shape. The beauty of this Rangoli is enhanced when it is decorated with Diyas. Watch the following video to learn the basics of drawing Sanskar Bharati Rangoli:

Which are the different occasions when Rangoli is drawn apart from Diwali?

Rangoli is drawn not only on the occasion of Diwali but also on different occasions like Dussehra, Gudi Padwa, Navratri, Holi and almost all the auspicious occasions and festivals. It is also drawn around the places of worship as well as near the places where idols of Gods and Goddesses are placed for worship as a holy omen. It is also drawn when there is Puja at home or if Puja of any kind is done at a particular place. In many households it is drawn every day at the entrance of the door as a holy omen.

Which are the different holy symbols used while drawing Rangoli?

Rangoli has been a part of Indian tradition since many years and it is incomplete without holy symbols. The different holy symbols that are used while drawing Rangoli include symbols like Aum, Shankh (Conch), Sudarshan Chakra (Chakra that is in hands of Lord Vishnu), Swastik, Kamal (Lotus), Chandra (Moon), Surya (Sun), Gadha (Mace Weapon), Dhanush (Bow), Tulsi Vrindavan (Holy Basil Plant), More Pankh (Peacock Feather), Mango leaves, Neem leaves, Stars and faces of Gods and Goddesses. Drawing these symbols are known to invite good luck, prosperity and a lot of happiness in the house. Many people use their own creativity while drawing these symbols. They make these symbols and draw many different patterns around these symbols with different Rangoli colours.

What material is used for drawing Rangoli near the entrance of the door?

White Rangoli powder is readily available in the market which is generally used for drawing Rangoli. Similarly, different Rangoli colours are also available in a form of powder. Apart from that in some South-Indian states, rice flour is used to draw Rangoli. Paint is also used to draw permanent Rangoli outside the house. Different materials like chalk, sand, flowers etc; can be used for making Rangoli. Rangoli colours can also be used to draw Rangoli on water.

How to make Rangoli with flowers or floral Rangoli?

One of the beautiful ways to make Rangoli is to make it with flowers. You can use different kinds of flowers for making floral Rangoli. Such flowers include flowers like marigold, jasmine, rose, chrysanthemum (Shevanti) or any other flowers of your choice. You can also use mango leaves along with flowers for making floral Rangoli. You can use whole flowers or flower petals for making such Rangoli. Floral Rangolis are easy to make and such Rangolis lighten-up the festive mood. Floral Rangolis can be used for decorating the places of worship as well as the entire house. These Rangolis can also be decorated with the help of Diyas.

Is it alright to use Rangoli stickers?

People who are too busy to draw traditional Rangolis use Rangoli stickers. Rangoli stickers can be used but they do not provide the elegance and charm that traditional Rangolis bring to the house.

Which are the simplest ways to draw traditional Rangolis?

If you are too busy to draw Rangoli in a traditional way and you do not want to use Rangoli stickers, you can simply use Rangoli stencils. You can draw a perfect Rangoli with the help of the Rangoli stencil. There are a wide variety of stencils available in the market ranging from the floral designs to holy symbols and pictures of Gods and Goddesses. These stencils come in the form of different shapes and sizes. Nowadays even Rangoli sets are available in the market for adults as well as children which include all the essentials that are required for making a Rangoli. Therefore, even children can draw beautiful and perfect Rangolis with the help of stencils and make Diwali special and memorable.

What are the faiths and beliefs associated with Rangoli?
There is a belief that in the Hindu month of Margashirsha which usually falls between the month of December and January, Goddess Andal worshipped Lord Tirumala in order to marry him and her wish was granted. So, during this month most of the girls in South-India wake-up early in the morning and draw Rangoli in front of their house to worship Lord Tirumala so that they get a good husband. The significance of Rangoli is also mentioned in the great Indian epic Ramayana. The importance of Rangoli is mentioned during the episode of discussion about Goddess Sita’s wedding pavilion.

which are the different names of Rangoli?
Rangoli is known by different names in different parts of India. In Maharashtra and Goa, Rangoli is known as Raangolee, in Chhattisgarh it is known as Chaook. In South-India, it is referred as Kolam and in Mithila it is known as Aripan. In Karnataka it is known as Hase or Rangoli and Muggulu in Telangana and Andra Pradesh.

What does Rangoli convey?
Rangoli is drawn to convey various messages. During the festivals it depicts the beautiful Indian culture. There are various spiritual reasons associated with drawing Rangoli in front of the main entrance of the door. It is drawn to invite good luck and prosperity in the house and ward-off evil spirit. It is drawn to welcome Goddess Laxmi in the house. There are various messages too that people write with Rangoli like ‘Welcome’ or ‘Happy Diwali’ or ‘God Bless You’. It is also used to write Mantras like ‘Aum Namah Shivaya’ or ‘Hari Om’.

How to make Rangoli powder at home?

There are different ways that you can follow to make Rangoli at home. You can take rice and add acrylic paint to it. Mix the rice and colour well. After the coloured rice dries, you can grind it in a mixer to make a fine powder out of it. You can also use salt and food colour to make Rangoli colour at home. All you need to do is add food colour to the salt and mix it well and your Rangoli colour is ready. You can also make Rangoli colour with the leftover Holi colours. All you need to do is add the Holi colours to Suji (Semolina) and salt and mix these ingredients well to make perfect Rangoli colours.

Watch the following video to find out how to make Rangoli colours instantly at home.

So, this festive season try making different types of Rangolis to invite good luck, wealth, prosperity and happiness in your home. Make every day of Diwali special with the help of the wide varieties of Rangolis that you can draw. Do not forget to add charm to your Rangoli creation by lighting beautiful Diwali lamps around it. Make this Diwali brighter and colourful with your beautiful Rangoli designs.

Significance of Rangoli: Why Draw Rangoli At Entrance Of The House?

Rangoli at Diwali

Rangoli, which means rows of colours, is drawn on the entrance and filled with colours during

Rangoli designs are created using the thumb and forefinger.

It is drawn to welcome guests and different Gods and Goddesses and to bring joy into homes.

Origin of Rangoli
Lopamudra was the wife of a sage called, Augustya Rishi. She also wrote 2 portions of the Rigveda
(famous holy books). She and her husband lived in a remote place, away from others. People would
describe them as hermits.

Lopamudra wanted help her husband in worshiping the gods, so she started to make rangoli, a
decoration for the Yagyakunda.

Yagyakunda is what we call a place of worship.

Lopamudra asked the Panchatatva (the five elements – sky, wind, water, earth, fire) to give her
colours to please her husband. She was able to collect blue from sky, green from water, black from
soil, red from fire and white from wind. She then added these colours to the rangoli (made from
ground rice, lentils, flowers and spices) which is why they look so beautiful today.
Rangoli Colours

Blue represents the sky and green represents the sea. Both colours bring calm and helps with using our
imagination. These are good colours for story-telling.

Black brings strength and stability.
Red, the colour of fire or danger, represents the code of conduct the artist must follow.
White represents peace and positivity and embodies all colours.

All of these colours in Rangoli bring in elements that we wish for in the new year, when celebrating Diwali.

Types of Rangoli
There are two types of Rangoli: dry Rangoli introduced by Lopamudra and wet Rangoli introduced
from Sita (from The Story of Rama and Sita).

When Sita fell in love with Ram, she ground some rice and prepared rangoli and prayed to the
Goddess Gauri (wife of Shiva) to grant Ram as her husband.

The Rangoli prepared for Diwali is the dry Rangoli created by Lopamudra.

Rangoli in different parts of India
In different parts of India, there are different stories surrounding the origin and use of Rangoli.
In Gujrat, when Lord Krishna (a supreme god, widely worshipped in India) settled down in

Dhwarika, his wife,Rukmani, started the rangoli pattern. In Gujarat Rangoli is called Satiya because

Krishna is the Satiya (partner) of Rukmani.

Below are some other names for Rangoli in different parts of India:

• West Bengal – Alpana.
• Orissa – It is called Joti which is put in front of Lord Jaganath.
• Chattisgarh – Chouk Purna.
• Karnataka – Rangoli.
• Maharastra – Sanskara Bharati.
• Tamil Nadu – Kolam.

Rangoli in different parts of India (continued)
In India despite the different cultures and customs and different names, Rangoli is common and it
brings joy and prosperity.


Rangoli has different origins and names in different parts of India.

Can you find information on these different types of Rangoli listed below?
1. Alpana
2. Joti
3. Chouk Purna
4. Sanskara Bharati
5. Kolam

The Tradition of Rangoli

Rangoli is an Indian traditional or folk art, which is generally created on the floor on some festive occasions. The Indian scriptures and puranas (hindu mythological literature works) can be attributed for the emergence of this creative rangoli art. This ancient Indian art is believed to be originated from the Indian state Maharashtra, from where it get gradually dispersed in the rest of the country.

Origin of Rangoli Festival
Rangoli is named differently in different Indian states like in South India it is called Kolam, Madana is Rajasthan, Chowkpurna is the name of rangoli in Northern India, Alpana in Bengal, in Bihar it is called Aripana, and so. According to the earliest disquisition or treatise on Indian painting, named Chitra Lakshana, a king and his kingdom were extremely grieved on the death of the high priest’s son. Everybody along the king offered prayers to the creator of the universe, i.e, Lord Brahma for giving life to the boy. Brahmaji, being moved by the prayers of these people, came and asked the king to paint a likeness of the dead boy on the floor. He then put life into the portrait, thus relieved the entire kingdom from its sorrow and pain. This mythological tail is considered the scriptural evidence of the origin of this beautiful Hindu art, named Rangoli.

Rangoli as a Creative Expression
‘Rangoli’ is a Sanskrit word, signifying a creative expression of art by means of colors. In ancient times, beautiful rangoli patterns and designs were made on the entrances of Indian homes for beautifying them and welcoming the guests. Besides a creative expression of art, they were also considered a symbol of good-luck. Ours is the culture of, “Athiti Devo Bhava” means “Guest is God”. So, what can be better than rangoli in expressing this cultural mannerism and hospitality that we possess by tradition. Although rangoli is made on many occasions in India, but the Diwali festival witnesses the greatest use of rangoli. People made rangoli on the entrance doors of their homes on the auspicious occasion of Diwali, not only to welcome guests, but goddess Laxmi (the goddess of wealth and fortune).

The formation of an ideal rangoli art demands the attentive use of vibrant rangoli colors on a properly broomed and cleaned floor. However, rangolis are simple two-dimensional designs, but even the modern three dimensional art becomes graceless before them. Freehand use of vivid colored powders is made while making a rangoli. The most common way of making a rangoli is to pinch the thumb and the forefinger and let the color to freely run out from the gap.

Rangoli was one of the major decorations or embellishments in the ancient times, but they have not lost their charm even in the modern context. These traditional embellishments are still used in India on various festivals and special occasions like marriages, birth ceremonies, and so. Although rangoli making is a popular art across India, but they are like a tradition in Maharashtra, where they are most prevalent. On the Diwali festival, people usually make various types of geometrical patterns and designs between which they place oil lamps (diyas).

What is Hinduism?
Hinduism is one of the world’s oldest religions and is the oldest religion that is still practiced today. The religious tradition of Hinduism is primarily focused on connecting to the supreme god or ultimate reality, known as Brahman, and bettering oneself to escape the cycle of reincarnation. The tradition functions not only as a religion, but the definition of Hinduism also includes combining the beliefs, cultural practices, and philosophy of ancient and modern India. Hinduism is famous for having thousands of deities, both gods and goddesses, but most Hindus believe that all of the deities are manifestations of Brahman. In the 21st century, Hinduism is considered the third most-practiced religion in the world, following Christianity and Islam. It is especially common in India, the area where it originated, as 94% of the world’s Hindu population resides there. It is also widely practiced in Nepal and Bangladesh.

What is the origin of Hinduism?
Unlike most world religions, there is no singular founder of Hinduism, so no one knows who started Hinduism. Since the tradition is so ancient, there are few facts known about its origins and early history. When did Hinduism begin? Some scholars believe that Hinduism originated where northern India is today in the Indus Valley region, as early as 10,000 BCE. The tradition may have started as an indigenous tradition native to the area. The term Hindu, meaning Indian, was given to the tradition by the Persians who inhabited the area much later. Around 1,500 BCE, however, Hinduism became a functioning religion with codified scriptures called the Vedas, which contain the basic principles of Hinduism. This period of history in early Hinduism, when the earliest texts and doctrines were established, is called the Vedic period.

Hinduism is not always practiced as a scriptural tradition, with people relying on texts for guidance. However, there are a variety of texts that are authoritative for the tradition. The tradition breaks religious texts into two categories: the shruti, meaning what is heard, and the smriti, meaning what is remembered. The latter category contains popular religious literature, including the epics the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. The former category contains many sacred scriptures that monks and other religious leaders have preserved and studied over time, all of which are contained in the Vedas.

The authoritative texts of Hinduism are called shastras, or scriptures, and contain a collection of the spiritual laws passed along by Hindu saints and sages. In the shastras, the Vedas, which simply means knowledge, are the oldest texts of Hinduism. According to the tradition, the Vedas does not contain ideas just thought of by humans but instead, contains knowledge that always existed in the world but was finally written down. Some believe that they began as oral traditions that the gods gave to scholars to write down. The texts are primarily focused on rituals and how to worship different deities.

Major Beliefs of Hinduism
One of the unique aspects of Hinduism versus other world religions is that there is no set of unified beliefs, practices, or guidelines one must adhere to to be a Hindu. Most Hindus believe, however, that certain laws govern the universe and humanity. These include:

Basic Tenets

Dharma literally means duty, and it is based on one’s position in life. This is where the caste system is significant. Someone in the priestly or royal class will have a different dharma than someone in the warrior caste, the merchant caste, or the commoner caste. Hinduism teaches that one’s position in the caste system is determined by their actions in a previous life since everyone lives, dies, and is reborn in the cycle of reincarnation called samsara. Therefore, if someone did not follow their dharma in a previous life, they would be born lower down in the caste system than they were before; if they did follow their dharma, they might be born higher up. Depending on the severity of how poorly they followed their dharma, they might be reborn as an untouchable or even as an animal.

Although samsara seems endless, Hinduism teaches that there is an escape or liberation from the endless cycle of birth and rebirth, which is called moksha. Following one’s dharma is what can help them achieve moksha, and karma is a part of this. Karma is not quite the same as the 21st-century popular conception of “what goes around comes around” or that what one does to someone else will happen to them as well. Rather, karma focuses on right action and is inherently tied to the other concepts of Hinduism. The better one’s karma is, the better their chance to move up in the cycle of reincarnation and closer to achieving moksha. Karma is very much based on one’s station in life, so the right action for one person might be different from another person based on their dharma. For most people, part of their dharma is ahimsa, or non-violence, since all people and animals are souls attempting to achieve moksha.


Like all religions, Hinduism has sacred spaces that are used for worship and community. The primary places of worship for Hindus are temples, called mandir, which are usually dedicated to a specific deity, though many other deities can be worshiped there as well. Hindu temples are holy places that can be visited at any time as there is not a set worship schedule. Since they are sacred, people remove their shoes when entering the temple. While temples are for Hindu laypeople, there is also ashram, which are Hindu monasteries. These are used primarily for Hindu spiritual leaders to retreat for meditation, instruction, and religious reflection.

Major Practices

One of the most common practices of Hinduism is bhakti, or devotion to the deities. In addition to temples, people will often have shrines in their homes to certain deities and will worship them there. When these worship services are communal, they are referred to as puja and will involve prayer, bhakti, a sacrifice of foods to the deities, music, and meditation. These meditations, whether part of a puja service or not, often include yoga and sadhana.

Lesson Summary

Hinduism is a world religious tradition that combines the beliefs, cultural practices, and philosophy of ancient and modern India. It began in the Indus Valley possibly as early as 10,000 BCE, but the facts about the Hindu religion’s founder and time of founding are unknown. By 1,500 BCE, the earliest religious texts, called the Vedas, were written to preserve the rituals and practices of the tradition. The Hindu shastras, or collection of the spiritual laws passed along by Hindu saints and sages, include the section of the Vedas called the Upanishads, which contain the philosophical discussion of Hinduism. In addition, other less authoritative religious texts like the Mahabharata provide important discussions of Hindu ideas for religious practitioners. Some of the most important beliefs and practices of Hinduism include:

dharma, or duty

samsara, or reincarnation

moksha, or the liberation from samsara

karma, or right action

and belief in one god or supreme divine entity called Brahman with multiple manifestations
The deities who are manifestations of Brahman include Brahma (the creator god), Vishnu (the preserver god), Shiva (the destroyer god), and Shakti (the supreme goddess). Many Hindus try to connect to Brahman and practice mindfulness through yoga as well as by reciting tantras, or ritual texts.

The Meaning of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’

‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ is a Sanskrit term that means that the guest is equivalent to God. It comes from the Taittiriya Upanishad. This phrase speaks volumes about Indian culture and Hinduism. In fact, it is used as a slogan by the Indian tourism department to show that India is a warm and welcoming place for people from all over the world.

How did this phrase originate? In the ancient days, people had no means to communicate the news of their arrival to their friends or relatives. So the guest was an unexpected visitor at one’s home. The word ‘tithi’ means calendar. ‘Atithi’, therefore, means someone without a calendar. ‘Devo bhava’ means ‘like God’. Thus, the phrase was coined to remind people that one should treat a guest like God and not like an unwelcome intruder. This approach also helped to create a good relationship between the host and the guest.

This concept is mentioned in Shijshavalli I 11.2 in the Taittiriya Upanishad. The entire phrase goes like this: Matru devo bhava, Pitr devo bhava, Acharya devo hava, Atithi devo bhava’. It means that we should regard our mother, father, guru, and guest as God. This hymn reveals the importance of respecting these important people who play vital roles in our lives.

Rituals related to Atithi Devo Bhava

In the modern world, people rarely perform any rituals to welcome guests into their homes. But this was not so in ancient times. There were certain prescribed rituals for this purpose. Some people observe them even now, as they consider such rituals an integral part of their culture and tradition. Let us see what they are.


This ritual is about offering the guest a room that has a pleasant fragrance. This elevates their mood and feeling of comfort. After all, nobody wants to stay in a room with a bad odor.


Diya is an oil lamp. Even now, a new bride in India is welcomed into her husband’s home with a lighted lamp. This is a Hindu custom. In the case of the guest, too, the diya signifies a warm welcome to the visitor. Also, in the days before electricity, if a guest arrived at dusk or night, the light from the lamp helped the host to identify the guest.


Naivedya comprises fruits and milk-based sweets. People in the past often had to travel long distances by foot to reach their destination, as there were no buses and trains. This made them tired and hungry by the time they arrived at their host’s place. Offering them fruits and sweets helped them to replenish their energy.


In this ritual, the host applies tilak on the guest’s forehead and also some rice grains or akshata on it. This signifies that the host is welcoming them and inviting them to be a part of their house.


Flowers or ‘pushpa’ are also offered to guests, especially female guests, to indicate goodwill. The host offers flowers again when the guest leaves their house to symbolize the fact that they are leaving with pleasant memories.

All the above rituals have been observed by Hindus as part of their culture and tradition when they received guests at home since ancient times. But in the modern world, very few people observe such customs.

Not surprisingly, there are some legends and myths, too, that illustrate the concept of Atithi Devo Bhava. One can find them in the Scriptures.

Sudama visits Krishna

Sudama and Lord Krishna were childhood friends who studied together. But Sudama was not wealthy like his friend. One day, Sudama’s wife told him to visit Krishna and seek his help. So Sudama went to see his friend. He took some poha with him, as he knew that Krishna loved poha. It was a humble gift, but it was all he could afford. Krishna was overjoyed to see Sudama and welcomed him with great warmth and love. He treated him like royalty. Sudama was so overwhelmed by Krishna’s warmth that he forgot to ask for his help. But when he returned home, he was amazed to find an opulent mansion where his humble hut had stood and his wife and children wearing expensive clothes and jewelry. It was Krishna’s leela, for he knew all about Sudama’s plight even without Sudama uttering a single word.

Shabari and Lord Rama

An old woman, Shabari, was a great devotee of Rama. Once when Rama paid her a visit, she gave him some berries to eat. But before she gave them to him, she tasted them to see if they were ripe and sweet. Such was her love for Rama. Instead of being offended that she had tasted them first, Rama relished the berries, for he knew that she did it out of devotion.


In some stories (in diverse cultures), God sometimes visits us in disguise to test us. If we treat the visitor well, God is pleased and blesses us. But if we are rude towards the visitor, we may incur God’s wrath. Such stories also highlight the fact that guests should be treated with respect and courtesy. Above all, Atithi Devo Bhava reminds us of the essential Hindu belief that God resides within all of us, so when we treat guests well, we are respecting God himself.


Atithi Devo Bhava – the meaning at a practical level


Recently someone came to the Spiritual Research Centre and Ashram as a guest, and during the few days she was here she did not behave well with the seekers or with the ashram administration. Yet seekers in touch with her tried to do their best to accommodate her and her wishes, some of which were very unreasonable. At the point in time when the guest was leaving, she apologised for all the inconvenience she had caused. However this incident prompted a discussion amongst a few seekers that according to Hindu Dharma, there is verse from the Taittiriya Upanishad, Shikshavalli I.20 that says: matrudevo bhavapitrudevo bhavaacharyadevo bhavaatithidevo bhava. It literally means “be one for whom the Mother is God, be one for whom the Father is God, be one for whom the Teacher is God, be one for whom the guest is God.” So the question in our minds from a personal spiritual practice standpoint was to what extent does the guidance of treating a guest as God apply? If a guest behaves badly, to what extent should the host accommodate it? Suppose a guest steals from or attacks the people giving him shelter, should they as hosts just accept it?

There is also a famous story from Victor Hugo’s novel ‘Les Misérables’ where a recently released convict steals from a bishop (a senior Christian priest) who had provided him with shelter. During the night, the ex-convict awakens and steals the bishop’s silverware and silver plates, and runs off. He is arrested and brought back to the bishop. In the enquiry that ensues, the bishop takes the thief’s side saying that he had himself given the thief the silverware so that he can use it to become a better person. This story of the bishop’s behaviour is often quoted as an example of good Christian values. The story does have a good ending as the ex-convict does eventually use the opportunity to become a better man. However is this something that a common person should use as benchmark in dealing with such guests?

Recently the Government of India too adopted the same ancient verse as a tagline for an advertising campaign on ‘Incredible India’ to raise awareness amongst Indians on how to treat tourists in a proper manner and to attract foreigners to India.

We asked His Holiness Dr Athavale how our thinking should be. He guided that ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ actually has an implied meaning, which is that one should treat a visiting seeker as God. When the verse containing ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ was created, people had the sixth sense ability to understand who a seeker was. In that era, both the host as well as the guest were seekers and behaved in a seeker-like manner. Accordingly this statement in that era was applicable to most people.

In the current era, unfortunately most people are not doing any spiritual practice and hence do not understand what it is to behave as seekers, guests and hosts included. Seekers make up a very small segment of society. Keeping this in mind, ‘Atithi Devo Bhava,’ which really means, if a seeker of God visits you treat him like God, can only truly be exercised by a host towards a small segment of society. If a host treats every guest as God, he can be hurt or taken advantage of. If a guest misbehaves or attacks a host, the host is well within his right to protect himself and or ask the guest to leave. If the guest slaps the host, from a spiritual perspective the host is not expected to turn the other cheek, but can protect himself.

With regards to the story of the bishop and the silverware, this guidance or behaviour cannot be the yardstick for everyone to be measured by or the benchmark to follow. In Spirituality, guidance can never be the same for everyone. There is no one-size-fits-all aspect to spiritual guidance. In Spirituality (Sanatan Dharma) guidance changes depending on various factors such as the spiritual level of the people involved, the circumstances of the situation, according to the time or era, etc. Regular spiritual practice is the only way to bring lasting positive changes in the character of a person. The spiritual purpose of life is to use our lives to grow spiritually. This can only happen by accompanying practicing Spirituality and spiritualising every aspect of our lives.

In the case of hosts and guests, along with regular spiritual practice, if we as hosts can be as accommodating as possible to our guest’s wishes, without harming our spiritual practice, then listening to others helps to reduce our ego, which is an important requirement for spiritual growth. In every situation focusing on chanting the Name of God as a spiritual practice helps us to remain calm and behave in a seeker-like manner regardless of the other person’s behaviour or the situation.