“Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse. -Winston Churchill

Aipan or Alpana is an art form which has a noteworthy place in all the Kumaoni households. It is a traditional folk art of Uttarakhand. It has a great degree of social, cultural as well as religious significance. Many households decorate their wall papers and pieces of cloth by drawing various geometric and other figures belonging to gods, goddesses and objects of nature. It holds special importance during festivities as the symbols on an Aipan pattern represent Gods and Goddesses.

Origin & Significance

The word “Aipan” is a derivative of ‘Arpan’. A commonly used word for it is “Likhai” (writing), although it is a pattern made with the fingers. Aipan are used as ritual designs for Pujas, festivals and ceremonies connected with birth, janeu, marriage and death. Aipan are usually drawn at the place of worship of the houses and the main entry doors of the houses or in the front courtyard. The Chowkies of mango wood are painted with Aipan’s special designs, each valuable for a special occasion. The raw materials used are simple ochre (Geru ) colour and rice paste. Mostly women paint the designs on the floors and walls of their homes using the last three fingers of the right hand. However, the ones with Geru patterns are drawn with a free hand.

‘Pichhauras’ or dupattas are also decorated with Aipan designs and patterns. During the Harela festival of the Kumaon, there is a tradition of making clay idols (Dikaras). The Swastik pattern has immense significance in Aipan patterns as well. It is drawn in some form or another. Most of the religious rituals are carried out by drawing Swastika. In Hindu mythology, Swatika represents all gods and goddesses. Pichhauras which are worn by Kumaoni women during festivals and marriages,carry a Swastik Aipan design quite aesthetically.

Now a days, Aipan patterns are used on varied items like greeting cards, wall hangings, cushion covers, tablecloths, even T-Shirts. The decorative patterns used to adorn doorways that have been adapted for gift tags, bookmarks, clay items, wooden boxes, trays and coasters.

Aipan are known by different names and are quite popular in many parts of India. These are called Alpana in Bengal, Satiya in Gujrat, Rangoli in Maharashtra, Chowk pooran in Uttar Pradesh, Kolam in South India, Madne in Rajasthan, Arichan in Bihar and Bhuggul in Andhra Pradesh.

Classification of Aipan

There are three styles of Aipan namely Siddhu, Davia and Loukika.

  • Siddhu: It Is The Style Of Aipan Which Are Drawn On Floor And Chowkies.
  • Davia: It Is The Form Drawn In The Form Of ‘Patta’ Or Strip. It Has Astrological Motifs, Manual Designs And ‘Dwar’ Or Door Pattas.
  • Loukika: It Is The Style Of ‘Bar Boondh’. These Are Drawn On Walls.


The medium selected for drawing Aipan may be different depending upon the purpose or  occasion and the variety of patterns and their combinations may be used at different occasions. The classification of Aipan depending on the medium it is drawn on is given below:

  • Floor Painting- These Are Further Divided Into Two Categories; Aipan Drawn At Door Steps (Creepers and Filler Design) And Aipan Drawn At The Place Of Worship (Shivpeeth, Laxmi Peeth, Asan).
  • Wall Painting-There Are Two Traditional Forms Of Wall Painting; One For The Kitchen (Nata And Laxmi Narayana) And Other For The Place Where Ritual Ceremonies Are Performed (Patas).
  • Wooden Chowkies- These Are Worship Seats Of The Deities Prepared Through Aipan And Used On Different Occasion Of Worship, Ceremonial Occasions Or On Festivals.
  • Aipan On The Door Steps: Aipans Drawn On The Doorsteps Are Beautifully Designed And Decorative With Great Aesthetic Value. It Is A Combination With ‘Vasudhara’, The Vertical Lines Made By Dripping The ‘Biswar’ (Rice Floor Solution Made By Soaking The Rice And Then Grinding It Which Is Used For Drawing Aipan).
  • Vasudhaara: Drawn On Pooja Vedika, Door Steps Of The House, Place Of Worship, Tulsi (A Structure Made Around The Tulsi Plant) With Vasudhara. Without Vasudhara, Aipan Are Considered  Incomplete. These Are Made By Painting The Place With ‘Geru’ (Filtered Red Color Soil) And Thereafter Making Vertical Lines By Dripping ‘Biswar’. The Dripping Of ‘Biswar’ Is Carried Down By Anamika (Ring Finger).