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From inflation to child labour, the students of Rashtriya Kala Academy adopt different subjects for their rangoli designs every year. And once the themes are decided, they bedeck the different city chowks with their creativity during the Ganesh festival. "On visarjan day, we decorate 10 chowks starting from Tilak Road to Alka chowk, with rangolis based on various themes. We also make rangolis for Seva Mitra Mandal at Shukrawar Peth and Dagduseth Halwai Ganpati Temple," says Yogesh Golande, head of design at Rashtriya Kala Academy. "We do not make rangolis for other mandals as they get very crowded and there is no space for a grand rangoli nowadays," he adds.
The academy is a charitable institute which invites students to come and learn the art of this age-old tradition at a nominal annual fee of Rs 200. For the last 14 years, Rashtriya Kala Academy has been adding colour with morals to the festivity. Five-year-old children to adults above 40 years of age come to the academy to learn this. "Anyone can learn to make rangoli in six months. Our classes are held on Sundays. We first teach our students basic logos and signs like dots, lines, circles and so on, and then guide them through the basics of designing and planning," describes Golande.
Practise for Chaturthi starts two months in advance as students gather at the academy every evening from 5 - 7 pm to plan and design rangolis. Proper paperwork needs to be done before the team can start work on the designs. "It is all about teamwork. A section of students outlines the design, another fills in the colour while different sections make circles and write slogans," informs Golande. Huge rangolis, 30 feet in diameter, are made at Tilak Chowk and the following nine chowks on the Laxmi Road stretch while a 40 ft rangoli is made at Alka Chowk. "About 200 team members are involved in making rangolis during Chaturthi. We use 30 sacks of colour, a total of 150 kgs," says Golande.