Meet the Rangoli Family

Meet the Rangoli family. Ok, that's not their real name. 😀

On my first week of school at KYM, I noticed that every day I walked by a driveway where someone drew beautiful rangolis. If you've been following my posts, you know that a rangoli is a type of yajña, or offering, drawn for blessings for everyone in the home or neighborhood. This driveway is on a busy street, and every day I saw a lady sitting on a chair out by the rangolis, so in my mind I started calling her the Rangoli Lady.

Seeing the artwork brings me such joy that one day I brought the Rangoli Lady a garland of jasmine flowers for her hair and she seemed really pleased. Since we don't speak the same language, I was going by observation, facial expressions, and body language, to try to understand her story.

I started bringing her a little gift every other day or so - oranges one day, candy canes another - just little things, and she'd smile a big smile. I'd call out, "Hi, Lady!" and she'd come over and I'd pass the gift over the gate.

Occasionally other people were around the driveway with her. A pair of girls, a man, a tall boy. I assumed she/they worked there. It's a common job to be a gate keeper or "watchman" (security person), so I figured her job was to mind the gate and screen visitors for whoever lived at the end of the driveway.

Over the past few days I've been hatching a plan. I've felt so blessed to see this beautiful artwork every day, and been so wrapped up in the story I'd made up in my mind about the Rangoli Lady. I bought a set of pastels and a notebook of art paper. I wanted to gift them to the Rangoli Lady and propose that if she wanted to, she draw some rangolis on the paper for me to take home to Texas and frame and sell for her. I'd bring her all the proceeds when I come back to India in October.

A couple of issues though. I didn't know how well my plan would be received and I didn't have a way to communicate with her.

Today my friend Mukesh, the manager of the apartment where I'm staying, agreed to go with me to translate. Mukesh himself is from north India, so neither the language of this state, Tamil, nor English, are his native language. Even still, he did a great job. We discussed on the way what we wanted to say to the Lady. We wanted to be careful not to overpromise, and of course wanted to leave the option for her to say no.

When we arrived, the gate was locked. Uh oh. It *is* a holiday, so I should not have been surprised. But we could see a tall boy way down the driveway and we were able to get his attention after a couple of minutes. He sent a man down the driveway who I'd seen before. The man had seen me talking to Lady before, so he called her and they both came to meet us. A couple of girls followed.

Mukesh began a short discussion with them and in very short time we learned that the artist was in fact the older of the two girls, who turned out to be Lady and the man's daughters. The tall boy is their son.

Mukesh made what seemed to be a very formal presentation and offered the girl the gift of pastels and notebook, and I of course did not know exactly what they were saying, but I could see that they looked kind of surprised and pretty happy.

After a little more discussion they seemed very honored and pleased with the idea. They said they make the rangolis because it brings them joy, they don't expect any pay, but it was clear they would be very happy to earn some extra money.

So get ready, friends, I'll be coming home with some beautiful rangoli artwork at the end of the month. Please let me know if you're interested in purchasing one in support of this sweet family.

Their names are Dad - Selvam, Mom - Vempu, Older Daugher/Rangoli Artist: Kaviya, Younger Daughter: Gayatri, and Son (not pictured) Karthik.

I'm looking forward to getting to know them a little better over the next couple of weeks. 💜