Sanjhi, a paper stencil used to create ceremonial Rangolis (floor decorations) originated in Mathura and is referred to as Temple Art. It is believed that it initially started as a practice followed by unmarried girls who made the decorative patterns on cow dung plastered on the walls of their houses. When Sanjhi came to be associated with temple traditions, the primary theme followed by artists practising this art form was dedicated to Lord Krishna. The temple craft is primarily practised by male priests and their male apprentices. A variety of materials can be used to fill in the stencils including coloured stones, coloured powder, flowers and much more. The art has also evolved with times, with contemporary Sanjhi including floating rangoli and secular designs such as the silhouette of a palace being adopted. What makes this craft unique is that the artisans make these pieces without any drawing or tracing. It is done freehand and often times includes very intricate designs. Sanjhi artisans undergo rigorous training, sometimes for decades before becoming expert craftsmen of this art. The craft is a truly dying craft with only one interconnected family practising the craft today.
To keep up with the times, latticework patterns of Mughal origin and contemporary themes have been introduced to widen the repertoire, in addition to the age old Krishna motifs. And you can see the craft having already made its way into homes as picture windows with the cuttings having been sandwiched between glass, on entrance doors to the pooja room. And if you are in Delhi, you would have seen it at the Delhi Metro too.