Kolams are drawings/patterns made on the floor. Kolams are considered auspicious, a symbol of prosperity and are drawn near the entrance of houses in India. This tradition is followed over the ages. Kolams are drawn with rice flour mixed with a powder called Kolam powder to make it convenient for drawing the kolams.
In early days, since the floors were mud floors, before drawing a kolam, the mud floor near the entrance would be sprinkled with cow dung mixed in water. This would help fight mosquitoes! Similarly, rice flour is used so that the powder could become food for ants and insects.
At the centre of the kolams, flowers are placed.
There are many forms of kolams such as maa kolam (the typical rice powder kolam), ezhai kolam (kolams drawn with a semi-solid form of rice flour) and the colourful version - rangoli.
These patterns symbolize various concepts which are advocated and mentioned in mythologies and divine doctrines. During special occasions and religious festivals, larger kolams are drawn on the streets by women. The kolams are given an additional shade by using semmann. This is a dark brown colour powder which is made with red sand to add to the beauty.