1.Kolam is traditionally made with rice flour that becomes a food for ants and birds. In Indian philosophy, there is a concept of living in harmony with creatures around you. Thus, we feed the crows before we eat, feed the dog after we eat, feed the cows and elephants when we visit the temple, etc. We believe that if you do good karma to the creatures around you each day, they bless you and make the day less painful. (Sadly, many people now are unaware of this significance and make kolams with chemicals & stone powders – lethal for these little ants).
2. It is a form of artistic expression. Women with more creativity try to draw as intricate patterns as possible and become their neighbor’s envy. It is like an art exhibition, every day. Strangers and passerby could appreciate your artwork as they walk along the street.
3. Doing artistic work early in the morning is a great boost to manage the hard work rest of the day. Remember, Indian life can be pretty hard as we are still pretty poor. It is little things like these that take our attention off our pains and enable us to enjoy the world.
4. It enables teamwork and social interactions. During winter months, women folk wake up at 4-5am in the morning in traditional neighborhoods and you could see them all working furiously with their own kolams. Neighbors could both comment on your work or give a hand. And you will also see some understanding husbands having an umbrella to protect the women from the dew and the drizzle. It is a great sight to watch. Again, it is all about harmony.
5. Connect with culture. Kolam enables the little kids to understand Indian culture better. As a kid, I used to watch my mom draw the kolams and she used to draw the patterns and tell the significance behind them. For instance, when there are major festivals, the kolams get bigger and made around a theme. It is a history/culture lesson on a rice flour.
6. Finally, kolams are also a way to keep people more active. Kolam is a great exercise. When you walk by a street in the morning, you can see which women are active and which ones are lazy just by looking at the kolams. This keeps the women on their toes and motivates them to be on an active lifestyle.