I know this is coming a little late, the reason being I myself learned it after Diwali (or Deepawali, as some people in India like to call this festival of lights),
Traditionally, women would make colourful designs in front of their house with rice flour, but these days preference is given to colours.
The one which my husband’s aunts made was a free-hand design. That is one way of making it, the traditional way being making a matrix of dots in square or rectangular shape and then joining the dots to make various patterns.
Now the aunts selected a clean spot in front of the house and first used white rangoli powder to create this design.
They decided on what colour is to be used where and then got down to filling it. It is quite a task to get the lines straight and a clean design shows how experienced the women are.
They used two shades of a colour in some cases, for example in leaves, to give it depth.
They then finished it off with a black background, or carpet as they call it.
I noticed this Diwali, peacock seemed to a popular choice in design. I guess the vibrant colours and the way a dancing peacock can be depicted in so many mudras was the catch.
I personally prefer rangoli made with flower petals and leaves. It has a very earthy feel to it and it is easier to clean up after the festival.
Here are some pics of rangoli designs which I have shamelessly copied from my friends’ facebook pages. The circular design rangoli is made of flower petals and leaves.