These designs are called “kolam” in Tamil.
It is the custom in Tamil Nadu for the head female of the household to sweep in front of the house at the start of the day and create one of these beautiful, intricate patterns.
The patterns have some basic rules of construction, but they vary greatly between households and from day to day. They are intended as a self-reflective exercise for the woman - the pattern will reflect her mood and internal feeling on that day.
This is the start of the new day and anything is possible. By externalising her feelings in this way, she gains clarity on what approach she needs to take.
The household is considered as her own sacred domain. The practice of making the kolam is respected as a way to keep it flowing with forces of harmony.
Dalai Lama XIV (via standardhumans)