October 19, 2017

Diwali (also known as Deepavali) begins today, and Hindu communities around the world gearing up for the festival of lights.

The five-day festival celebrates the return of Rama after 14 years in exile to defeat the demon king Ravana in the ancient Sanskrit epic Ramayana. Celebrants will set off fireworks, share sweet treats, and decorate their homes with candles and oil lamps for the holiday, but no celebration is complete without admiring some beautiful rangoli — or making your own.

For the uninitiated, rangoli (also known as kolam in Tamil) are eye-catching designs made with colored rice, flour, powder, sand or flower pedals, traditionally assembled on the floor or a home or courtyard, though they can also be made in entrances or corners. Many depict Hindu deities, still others show geometric and concentric shapes, or floral or peacock motifs. They may reflect family or region-specific traditions or contain references to folk tales — but all are auspicious, and a way to express your creativity.

While traditionally drawn by women, there’s no ban on men making rangoli. Mahesh Rao, 29, a former engineer, is studying to earn a PhD in rangoli-making, according to the Bangalore Mirror.

“Rangoli is about culture and history,” he told the paper. “I am attempting to preserve the traditional art as I do not want the youngsters to view rangoli only as a picture.”

But you don’t need an advanced degree to get started. The internet has helped open the door of rangoli-making to the masses: there’s no shortage of how-to-guides, video tutorials and hacks out there to help you get started. And remember: there’s no shame in using stencils, says this helpful Times of India tip list.

Check out some designs below, and have a happy Diwali.

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