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The folk art of Orissa is bound up with its social and religious activities. In the month of Margasira (December), women folk worship the goddess Lakshmi (Wealth God). It is the harvest season when grain is thrashed and stored. Throughout the year, the village women perform several rituals for the fulfillment of their desires.
For each occasion a specific motif is drawn on the floor or on the wall. Muruja is drawn on the floor with powders of different hues. White powder is obtained from the grinding of stones, green powder is obtained from dry leaves, black from burnt coconut shells, yellow from the petals of marigold flowers or turmeric, and red from red clay or bricks. Muruja is generally used during rituals in the forms of mandalas.
In the holy month of Kartik (November) women observe penance and draw muruja designs near the tulsi plant. Drawing of muruja designs needs a lot of skill and practice. The powder is held between the tips of the thumb and the forefinger, and allowed to fall delicately through them to form lines and patterns which are a delight to the eye testifying to the innate skill of the practitioners who are generally women.
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