Rangoli at the Rock
Photo by Clayton Gentry / North by Northwestern

Members of the NU Interfaith Advocates and other students assisted Indira Johnson, the Chicago Magazine’s 2013 Chicagoan of the Year, craft a Rangoli pattern by the Rock Tuesday afternoon.

According to Johnson’s Rangoli Project pamphlet, “Rangoli is a South East Asian folk art tradition where a woman welcomes the day by painting a pattern on the threshold of her home … The ritual of Rangoli is centered on the protection and well being of one’s family, simultaneously fulfilling the need of the individual to be part of a larger universal realm.”

The pattern included several individual elements that worked together to comprise a collective whole. The circle in the center represents timelessness, and according to one of Johnson’s pamphlets, it represents enlightenment in Zen Buddhism. The square represents stability and order “in a chaotic world.” Triangles pointed opposite directions represent a “harmonious duality of opposites,” especially male and female. The spiral represents an eternal process of growth. The hand represents the expression of the body. The foot represents a divine presence or a visit, or as Johnson said, as an indication of “the path we take toward spirituality.” Water represents the source of life. The lotus represents purity, possibility and peace.

“All these symbols represent community, harmony and diversity,” said Weinberg junior Arkar Hein.

NU Interfaith Advocates hosted Rangoli at the Rock as part of its Wildcat Interfaith Week. This week will also feature events such as a “Living Library” of personal stories on the Norris Ground Floor Lawn Thursday at noon, a stand of solidarity for the kidnapped Nigerian girls at the Rock on Thursday at 9 p.m. and “Campus Kitchens,” where students will make sandwiches to support the hungry Saturday at 10:30 a.m.


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