Rangoli: A man’s cup of tea3 min read
Udupi/Manipal: Aged 28, Mahesh Rao graduated from an engineering college in Belgaum, and could have never imagined which profession he was destined to pursue. Currently an MBA student at T. A. Pai Management Institute (TAPMI), he conducts his own rangoli making classes at the Geetha Mandir, inside the Udupi Krishna Temple. Not only does he make rangolis at the temple every day but is also a painter.
When asked about his journey from being a normal engineering student to what he currently is, he gleamed and said, “My mother and sister inspired me to take this art up as my profession. They used to make very beautiful rangolis in the veranda of our house, every day.”
His first attempt at making a rangoli in the eighth grade was a big failure as he was laughed upon by hundreds of people who thought that this was a very ‘feminine’ thing to do. After this incident, there was nothing stopping him. In conflict with all existing expectations and generalizations, Mahesh took it upon himself as a challenge to excel in this area. He won the third prize in a District level competition in tenth grade, and the first prize in a State level competition the following year. In the year 2002, he won the gold medal in a National level rangoli making competition in New Delhi, which was presented to him by then President, Late Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
Mahesh’s parents wanted him to pursue engineering, which he did. He then worked for five years, and came to Manipal for an MBA degree. In 2013, he showed a live demonstration of making a rangoli and was awarded the B. P. Bayari Award for being the ‘Rangoli Bheeshma’ in Udupi. He also took part in a national level painting camp, wherein painters and artists from all over the country come and display their talent and artworks, the subject being ‘Haigriva and Bhoovahra’.
In November 2013, he worked straight for an unbelievable 22 hours and made a 40 x 40 feet rangoli in Sringeri, Karnataka. “This is when I decided to start rangoli making classes for the general public, to spread this particular art among the youth”, said Mahesh. He launched these classes about a year and half ago, and has taught more than 250 students so far. Classes are conducted from 2pm to 6pm every day and there are three levels in this three-month course, which consist of learning basic, advanced and unique rangolis respectively.
In an attempt to keep the Indian culture of making rangolis outside houses, alive in his own small way, Mahesh Rao is now a happy individual. Even after pursuing engineering to fulfil his parents’ wish, he took this step to make people aware of the existence of this art and tradition which is now, perhaps, is lost. He concluded by saying, “In this 21st century era, most people, especially the youth, don’t even know what rangolis are, and what significance they carry. We have to hold on to our roots, art and culture, in order to carry it forward and pass it on to the future generations, without it getting lost somewhere in this age of modernization.”
Edited by Gargi Kerkar