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Colourless prospect looms over rangoli powder trade

A.V. Ragunathan
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Intermittent rains and bad roads affect sales

Rangoli powder is in great demand as festive season is on. — Photo: C. Venkatachalapathy
Rangoli powder is in great demand as festive season is on. — Photo: C. Venkatachalapathy

The rangoli powder trade has had a bumpy ride during the current festival season in Cuddalore. The intermittent rains have dampened the tempo of sales and an unusual factor that has impeded its growth is the bad condition of roads all over the town.

Vendors anticipate lesser demand

Therefore, anticipating lesser demand, the vendors are warily going about the trade.

K. Viswanathan, who has put up a make-shift shop replete with rangoli powders of various hues near the Pan Pari Market, is not as exuberant as he was last year.

He says that last year the rangoli powder was in great demand for two reasons: timely withdrawal of the north-east monsoon and the low prices. However, this season, like that of other commodities, the prices of the rangoli powder too have gone up.

The vendors procure the dyes from Chennai in bulk and pack them in compact polythene covers of 20 gm each. The dye can be mixed with dry flour or chalk powder or granulated rice to get the required quantity and shade.

Some of the preferred colours are orange, red, yellow, green, pink, violet and brown. Black is preferred only on Pongal day for drawing sugarcane.

The dyes that were sold at Rs. 27 a kg last year are now being sold in the price range of Rs. 35 (brown) to Rs. 45 (red) a kg. Mr. Viswanathan is hopeful that as Pongal approaches, the demand will peak but, overall the quantum of sale would still be comparatively less. S. Manimekalai, another vendor, will have to check the weather before venturing to the market. She says that after the underground drainage project began, all the streets and bye-lanes in the town have been ravaged.

Bad roads

In every street there are mounds of damp soil and huge pot holes. The undulating surface has made laying of kolam or rangoli a difficult proposition and this has drastically affected the business.

R. Kamatchi, a resident of Thirupadiripuliyur, says that kolam or rangoli is a much-cherished heritage which women proudly practice.

Even before a girl child begins to write alphabets she gets exposure to kolam or rangoli.

Rangoli is one of the determining factors about the inherent artistry in women. Besides acting as an adorning device rangoli also heralds auspiciousness and prosperity.

A rangoli, with its symmetry and attractive colours, is aesthetically appealing to the beholder, she avers.

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