Decoration was not the sole purpose of a Kolam. In olden days, kolams used to be drawn in coarse rice flour, so that the ants don't have to work so hard for a meal. The rice powder is said to invite birds and other small critters to eat it, thus inviting other beings into one's home and everyday life: a daily tribute to harmonious co-existence. It is a sign of invitation to welcome all into the home, not the least of whom is Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity.
For special occasions limestone and red brick powder (kavi) to contrast are also used. Though kolams are usually done with dry rice flour, for longevity, dilute rice paste or even paints are also used. Usually enamel paint, which stays on for years together. These kinds of kolams can be seen in many bungalows, in temples and kalyana mantaps.
<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p>Modern interpretations have accommodated chalk, and the latest "technology" in kolams are actually vinyl stickers (that defeat the original purpose).</o:p>
Sticker kolams have a vast fan following, particularly in urban areas. These are available in a multitude of shapes, sizes and hues to suit everyone's needs. One just needs to remove the paper at the back of the sticker and paste it on to any clean floor. Now they a re selling Rangoli kolam set. Inside they have double side stickers. One side you stick on the floor. and remove the paper on the kolam and take coloured rice or flour and sprinkle them on the side facing you. That is all. Your colour ful Rangoli is ready :)