Mandana in the local language refers to ‘drawing’ in the context of chitra mandana or ‘drawing a picture’. Mandana is derived from the word Mandan which implies decoration and beautification. Historically, they have been practiced for centuries by women as decorations for special or festive occasions. Among others, these events included communal religious worship, festivals and fasts and lastly auspicious days in the life of the community such as birth or marriage.
Since they were drawn for spiritual purposes, the pictures usually consisted of the main deity of the festival. This served two purposes simultaneously; a) the deity of the festival is invoked through the paintings b) the pictures were also a symbolic representation of the god or goddess.
Sources of Inspiration
The motifs of these paintings are inspired by beliefs that pertain to auspiciousness and good omens. The technical term for such motifs is Shubh Manglik.
Many of the other patterns seen in the Mandana paintings are also reminiscent of the designs of the altars of vedic yagna, the vastu purasha mandalas and the floor plans of temples from the days of yore. There are many designs one sees in Mandana paintings that are directly influenced by architectural features as well as geometry.