Vegetable and flower kolam  

Beside kolam drawn with powders, lentils and coloured rice grains, fruits, vegetables, flowers and leaves come together to create ephemeral votive decorations.The Kāma-sūtra of Vatsyayana gives a detailed list of the sixty-four arts that a learned person must possess. Among the many skills:  the ornamentation on the floor with precious stones and the art of ephemeral decorations by means of flowers and coloured rice grains in the temples dedicated to Sarasvati or to Kamadeva, the god of Love.

Excerpt from my book KŌLAM et KALAM, Peintures rituelles éphémères de l’Inde du Sud, Editions Geuthner.

Kolam with flowers at Kapaleeswarar temple in Mylapore

During the Tamil month of Panguni (mid-March to mid-April), a nine day-long festival takes place at Kapaleeswarar temple in Mylapore, Chennai. The celebrations start with the flag hoisting. The idols of Kapaleeshwarar and Karpagambal mounted on a vehicle are decorated with clothes and jewels. Then they are taken around the temple and its water tank.This is repeated with different deities over the next nine days. It is a custom for the neighborhood women devotees to come out and draw large kolam to welcome the gods. On market street, vegetable vendors create for this occasion a vegetable and flower kolam to welcome the procession.

Marks are left by the temple chariot wheels 
South Mada street in Mylapore

Flowers, leaves and vegetables to represent deities

Decorated plates for the offerings

Offerings made to deities are always placed on plates which are solely used for this purpose. They can be occasionally decorated with powders or various seeds or grains. Kapaleeswarar temple being dedicated to Shiva, it is normal to find a lingam of phallic appearance topped by a polycephaly snake (left picture) and, the sacred symbol OM written with seeds on the right picture. The lingam is made with unhusked rice.

The elephant head Ganesha

Vegetal decorations

Kuruthola are hanging decorations made by cutting and knotting the tender leaves of the coconut tree. Sometimes the shapes are very elaborate (birds, flowers, snakes etc.). They are an integral part of religious and non-religious festivals like weddings, or any auspicious ceremony or mourning.

Selling Kuruthola for the harvest festival 
Ganesh temple in Mylapore, decorated with Kuruthola