The folk arts are richly displayed in Himachal Pradesh at the time of the local festivals and family celebrations. At the time of a wedding the courtyard is plastered over with fresh cow dung and then decorated over with intricate patterns made with white clay The whole is then brightened with flowers, petals and leaves.
Ritual arts can be divided into two parts. The traditional drawings done by the women folk at the time of feasts and festivals and the sacred Mandalas or Mandapas drawn by the priests at the time of religious rituals like the sacred thread ceremony or a wedding.
The women folk of the state regularly decorate the houses with Aippan (drawing upon the floor), Lekhnu and Mandale drawings. This is not done when there has been a death or some other mishap in the family. But once a son is born, during the period the normal pattern resumes. At the time of childbirth or the arrival of a bride Aippan are made. These follow complicated traditional patterns with loops, flourishes, curlicues and dome like shapes. Diwali is another occasion for decorating the house. On this day, the courtyard is cleaned and painted over with red and black clay and then decorated with a white liquid obtained by soaking the white Golu clay in water overnight. Most of these patterns are round or square. Half moon, full moon and swastikas are also drawn. In the Sarahana area, people make the figure of the legendary king Bali with kneaded flour.
Lohadi is a festival of fire worship. On this day the cooking fires are worshipped. the cooking area is especially cleaned, painted over and decorated. During Navratri and Kali puja women draw designs and pictures. On Nag Panchami and Jakkha (Yaksha) puja women paint the figures of serpents and offer puja to them.
The drawings done during festivals usually relate the significance of that particular festival and are motivated by a desire to please the deity or deities connected with it. These drawings portray the significant aspects of the festival symbolically.
Women made Mandapas during festivals like Panchal Bhishma fasts and Tulsi Vivah and Diwali. These are painted over with red clay and then it is decorated with pictures drawn with white Golu clay. The drum or the pot wherein the holy plant of Tulsi (Saith) is grown is also painted over with many pictures.
Vedic Brahmanism has been an abiding influence on the hill areas. The priest (Purohit) has a great importance and at the time of a birth, death, a wedding or a festival he begins the rituals after creating a Mandapa. This is painted over with fresh green cow dung, he then holds a pot of rice or ordinary flour and using his fingers as a paint brush draws various geometric patterns. These patterns symbolise astrological and auspicious figures like the nine planets, the pitcher, the fish, the tortoise, Ganesh, the 'Om' sign, Vasundhara and Kulaja. The Mandapas drawn at fasts and festivals have a ritualistic significance. The Palampur and Nurpur areas in Kangra have been most deeply affected by the Brahmanical faith.