Hrudaya Kamalam: Lotus of the heart

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Kolam (in Tamil) and Rangoli (in Hindi, Kannada) is an Indian art form in which patterns are created on the floor using rice flour, chalk or chalk powder, colored powders, flower petals or rice paste. Kolams are drawn in front of the house, in the courtyard, in living rooms, prayer rooms, in the kitchen next to the stove, along doorways, everywhere. There are hundreds of traditional designs, and everyone and their neighbor is constantly coming with new variations. Kolam was part of my upbringing. We made simple, quick ones every  morning outside the front door and made ridiculously complicated ones for occasions like Deepavali (festival of lights) or Navaratri.  Google kolam for a million hits and a million designs. Also try rangoli for slightly different designs. Also try pulli kolam for dot-based designs.

7404038560_573e936006_oNow back to quilting. I made a Celtic quilt (the green and yellow) a long time ago and my mother said it looked like Hrudaya Kamalam –  a very special Kolam for Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth. Hrudaya Kamalam translates to lotus of the heart. Hrudaya kamalam is a sacred design, usually drawn in a place of worship – at the temple or in the prayer room at home. People do not step on this kolam while it is generally OK to walk over other kolams.

Here’s a short lesson on drawing the Hrudaya Kamalam. It starts with a pattern of 8 lines radiating around a point. Each line has 5 dots spaced equally – the dots are numbered 1 to 5 starting from the innermost, going outward. This kolam is a continuous design drawn as a single line joining the dots in the following repeating pattern – 1-3-5-2-4 – until all dots are covered. As you can see in the picture, after a few cycles, it looks like overlapping petals of a lotus. The petals can be rounded as in my quilt or pointy.

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This quilt came about in another special way. It was September 2008 and hurricane Ike made landfall near Houston. In the aftermath of the hurricane, we lost power for a couple of days. We had nothing to do – no TV, no internet and no cooking either (we had an electric stove). My in-laws were visiting us and helped me pick out the fabric, and helped me draw the pattern on the background. I finished the quilt a few weeks later and gifted it to my in-laws as a token to remember their Houston visit and hurricane Ike. It’s about 48″ X 48″ and has sleeves in the back for hanging.

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Linking to Throwback Thursday at mmm! quilts where you show and tell a quilt from long ago…