September 19, 2020

Hema Kannan says her Kolams are her way to connect with the divine, young and herself.

How many of us take the time to draw a kolam/Rangoli every day? It’s a South India practice largely and yet in urban India we have seen a decline of this practice. Reasons are varied as it’s due to new styles of living, apartments where spaces are constrained, lack of time and interest or the inclination to make it to a routine.

However this amazing homemaker has made a name in the world of art. Meet Hema Kannan, based in Mumbai, who draws these breathtaking Kolams so artistically that make most to be in a daze just admiring them.

She’s so passionate of her hobby, that she dedicates 3-4 hours every day and sometimes more to draw these Kolams. Dressed in traditional South Indian attire, Hema is truly inspiring many to pursue hobbies and become masters in the art form. She draws very intricately and patiently right from deities to patterns and uses on many occasions a plethora of colours to make it appealing to a variety of audience. However perhaps she’s surprising herself with a new pattern every day.

The Lotus Shakti

Reshma Krishnamurthy from Mums and Stories had a telecon with this inspiring mum, to understand how this interest began and the journey.

“My grand mom was a very good Kolam artist and my mom too followed it as a practice. As a young girl, I remember my amma who would ask me to draw Kolams as I was taking keen interest in the patterns. I had lost touch with it as I got engrossed like many women from my generation in household responsibilities once I was married and had kids. It was only when my kids were a bit older, I came back to this art and it somehow pulled me so much that it’s part of me, it’s my life today.

Also, for me it is still sacred geometry, divine and I must say there are rules on how to go about it. Yet now I have my own way of doing some of the Kolams. I am also glad a few youngsters are quite keen on pursuing this art form further.”

The Lotus Shakti

Kolams in South India particularly in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka where it is known as Rangolis are way of invoking the positivity to enter homes early in the morning.

Hema further shares, “I very much draw in my home in Mumbai and sometimes I am so engrossed that I am lost in it and it’s also a spiritual journey for me. I would take classes earlier as many kids and adults wanted to learn and now it’s largely online. Whether it is in Mumbai, Bangalore, Tamil Nadu, I and my team have even drawn in front of deities.

I also have my designs in the form of a Coffee Table Book- Aatmashakti- A Journey with Kolams.  During Covid, the initial months I was surprised to find so many people reaching out to me to teach them to do these Kolams online. They wanted to practice, learn, rehearse with me. Perhaps the art gives them the much required calmness in life, good vibes and the right medium to be happy and peaceful.”

Hema who is also a TEDex speaker, runs a Facebook page The Lotus Shakti where every morning she’s out there to share her Kolam for the day.

It is incredible that women like Hema are striving to retain age-old traditions that are incredibly beautiful and they have also learnt to master the art form. More importantly they are willing to share their techniques and designs how to go about it, so that many more in the future can practice it at home.

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