I recently worked the official 4th of July event at the Ambassador’s residence. I was the program and décor chairperson and part of my responsibilities (among many others) included coordinating the creation of Rangoli decorations at the entrance to the Ambassador’s residence. Rangoli are colorful designs, made usually of flowers and colored rice but other mediums can be used as well such as colored sand, paper, glass beads, etc. Rangoli designs are especially popular around Diwali (the largest Hindu festival in the country) but they grace the entrances of Indian homes for other special occasions such as the arrival of guests. They are meant to be sacred welcoming areas for the Hindu gods.
In any case, we often have Rangoli designs for special occasions at the Embassy too and the official 4th of July Reception was no exception. Luckily, I work with some very talented local staff in Consular and they helped me design and create the Rangoli for the Ambassador’s 4th of July reception. Here is a picture of my team and the Rangoli designs we created for the event. I had a lot more pictures of the process of creation but we had forgotten to remove our ID badges while we were working on the Rangoli and as a result I can’t post them. Oh well. But this one was approved, so I am using it.
The Rangoli for the event were made from rose petals, white carnation petals, blue-colored rice and white paper stars. Ah, yes a lot of creativity and sweat too. Did I mention it was very hot? When we first started brainstorming on the design, my team was ready to go all out. They were thinking about making the Statue of Liberty and an eagle and I have no doubt they would have done a marvelous job because I have seen them create some amazing designs out of flower petals and rice but we presented our ideas to the Ambassador and she decided to go with something very simple this year, so we did exactly that. I found the process absolutely fascinating and was determined to use my new skillz as soon as an opportunity presented itself, which happened sooner than I expected. I also thought it would be an awesome bonding project to work on with Nia.
We are the social sponsors of our friends, the Pratts. Adrian is also a blogger, and a damn good one, I might add. He has several blogs but currently writes over at Passages from India. Adrian arrived in Delhi about a month ago but his family was about to arrive, so we decided to put up a Welcome Rangoli for them. An Indian colleague hooked us up with flower petals and then I met with my team – Nia, Gitanjali (our Nanny) and Jim (our Driver, who took most of the pictures). Paul was responsible for keeping Chutney as far away from the Rangoli as possible because that boy has some rad Shiva skills. (Shiva is the Hindu god of creative destruction.) This was our first Rangoli, so I wanted to go simple. I decided on a round shape with a white elephant in the middle and a scalloped edge around. We used chalk and a string anchored in the middle of the design to draw a perfect circle and then with Gitanjali’s help drew a basic elephant shape. It’s nice if you can get draw your design perfectly but if you have to make a few corrections here and there, it’s not the end of the world because your “oopsies” will be covered by flowers (or whatever other medium you decide to use).
We filled the elephant shape with white carnation petals.
Then we filled the circle with rose petals. Both the carnations and the roses smelled really good.
We rimmed the circle with an inch yellow marigold border. Finally, we drew a scalloped edge around the circle using a plastic plate as a guide and filled the scallops with orange marigold petals. You really can’t tell the difference between the yellow border and the scallops but those were the colors we had. We ended up with leftover petals and created a smaller Rangoli in front of our house but it’s not as nice because we had limited quantities/colors at our disposal.
Here is the completed Rangoli. It turned out pretty nice, no? The Pratts seemed to like it too.