Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Diwali and floor decorations like 'Rangoli' and 'Aripan'

Diya lit over the 'Aripan' and 'Rangoli' at the entrance of my house on 'Diwali' - Photo by me

Diwali - the festival of lights ... and sweets :-)
I also like another aspect of Diwali - the rituals of floor decorations. The most poplar and well-known form seems to be 'Rangoli'. In fact the word 'Rangoli' is also often used as a synonym for any kind of Indian traditional floor decoration.

These floor-decorations are a form of Indian folk art and is usually done by the women folk of the house. The motifs are uaually natural or geometric motifs. These floor decorations not only enhance the beauty of the surroundings, it also brings about warmth and hospitality.

This link aptly describes the following about 'Rangoli' and is also true for any other form of floor decoration commonly used in India:-
"Rangoli is a traditional Indian art created to decorate the ground in front of houses and places of worship to attract Lakshmi, the Hindu Goddess of wealth. Designs are created using decorative patterns marked out on the floor. The drawing of Rangoli patterns is often combined with rituals associated with auspicious occasions, such as major festivals and celebrations. The patterns are usually drawn by the women of the household in villages in parts of India; and in some places it is a daily ritual to mop and clean the entrance to the home and then make beautiful drawings in the doorways as a message of welcome."

It also tells about the different names for different types of floor decoration in India:
"There are different names for this craft depending on what part of India it comes from. There are Alpana from West Bengal, Aripan from Bihar and Orissa, Sathiya from Gujarat, Mandana from Raysatham, Kolam from Tamil Nadu and Rangoli from Maharastra."

Diya lit over the 'Aripan' and 'Rangoli' at the entrance of my house on 'Diwali' - Photo by me

'Diya' lit over an 'Aripan' at the entrance of my house on 'Diwali' - Photo by Rashmiman

I have seen my grandmother make beautiful 'Aripan' on the floor during different occasions, festivals, marriage ceremonies, etc. and I have always been fascinated by the free-hand flow while drawing. 'Aripan' is made using rice paste. Rice is soaked overnight, ground into a paste and then with the right amount of water added to it to make the right consistency, the 'Aripan' is drawn, prominently with the 'ring-finger'. My 'Aripan' is nowhere close to what my grandmother used to draw, or still draws. Nonetheless, I do try my hand at it off and on. I make sure to draw even a small motif on Diwali ... and honestly, I enjoy doing that. This time, I also tried a small motif with 'Rangoli' and the pictures here are of those at the entrance of my house.

Monday, October 23, 2006

A 'Punjabi Dhaba' - Haveli

These are photos of a restaurant, a 'Punjabi Dhaba' named 'Haveli' near Karnal, Punjab, where we went during our journey from Ludhiana to Delhi. Good place for a change.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Pictures of an Indian Village

Here are some more photos from a typical north-Indian village. I have been to quite a few villages and have seen that some things typically remain the same or similar, although the exact details might vary. These pictures are of some such things.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Durga Pooja

Durga Pooja, this festival is not merely another Indian festival for me. It evokes a lot of happy memories from my childhood. Durga Pooja used to be the most awaited and the festival with most fun, even more enjoyable than Holi or Diwali.

Having lived very close to the Bengali community and having many Bengali friends, Durga Pooja became an important festival for my family as well. The enthusiasm that went into the preparation of the festival, watching the clay idol of Goddess Durga being made, the Pooja ‘Pandals’ being constructed (every year with a new theme and the competition among the neighbouring areas as to whose was the best), the excitement when we used to go to visit all the other ‘Pandals’ and Poojas in the nearby areas (of course, in our new outfits), the fascination to participate in the ‘Pushpanjali’ (morning prayer offering flowers to the Goddess) and the overall festivity mood used to be amazing - specially on the three days- ‘Ashtami’, ‘Navami’ and ‘Dashmi’ (eighth, ninth and tenth day of the festival).

So far any other festival has not been as fascinating and enjoyable as Durga Pooja. Even when I went and stayed at different places for my higher studies and jobs, I have always missed this festival and the celebrations. Some things leave everlasting memories and memories of Durga Pooja celebrations from my childhood days is among them.

Only when I went for higher studies, stayed in hostels and met people from different communities, states and cultures did I come to know the different ways in which people celebrate during the same time as ‘Durga Pooja’ in the form of ‘Navratri’ and ‘Dussehra’.

This year I went with family and friends to visit the Durga Pooja at Chittaranjan Park, New Delhi. It was certainly not the same as compared to the memories that I have, yet, it was a reminder of those celebrations and it was good. The pictures here are of two separate celebrations at C.R. Park.

Pictures of Durga Pooja at Chittaranjan Park