Kalamezhuthu is the art of drawing very large pictures on the floor as part of temple rituals in Kerala.
Kalamezhuthu is the art of drawing very large pictures on the floor as part of temple rituals in Kerala. While drawing patterns on the floor, walls or doors in homes is a common domestic routine in almost all parts of India (going by different names like kolam, rangoli, etc.), kalamezhuthu in Kerala is a temple art. These are usually drawn as part of the worship of Devi, Naga and Sastha, as well as in some tantric rituals. The patterns or forms to be drawn are traditionally stipulated and strictly adhered to. The coloured powders used for drawing are also natural substances – rice powder for white, turmeric for yellow, charcoal from burnt paddy husk for black, dried and ground leaves for green and a mix of turmeric and lime for red.
The drawings are often intricate and complex but executed only with the hands; no other tools are used. The order in which the pattern is to be drawn is also set down. It may take hours to complete some of the complex kalams. Kalams are made as part of temple festivals or specific rituals. Mounds of rice, flowers and garlands are used to decorate the area where the kalam is drawn. Lighting is usually achieved using oil lamps, while singing hymns in praise of the respective deity is an important part of the ritual. Immediately after the worship or ritual is completed, the kalams are erased.