As echelons of zillion lights adorn

With fragrance of flowers & array of colors

Effusing joys to abound with Pearls of gleams in these autumn nights

Let us thank the heavenly might,
In this festive season of lights

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Deepawali is a remarkably popular festival of India. Predominantly celebrated by the people of the Hindu community. Diwali is celebrated on Amavasya the 15th day of the fortnight of the Hindu month of Ashwin. It falls either in October or November month every year. It symbolizes the culture of India which teaches to conquer ignorance that subdues humanity and to dislodge the darkness that engulfs the light of knowledge. The festival of Diwali is celebrated to summon love and prosperity in the house. 

Deepawali celebrates the triumph of the good over the evil as on this day the people of Ayodhya welcomed Lord Ram who had returned from 14 years of exile. The Hindu Lord Ram returned to his palace along with his brother Laxman and Sita ( his wife ). During the exile, Sita was abducted by evil Ravana. Later, The almighty lord ram defeated Ravana and rescued his wife. The whole Ayodhya was lit with diyas and burned crackers to celebrate their victory. Since the day every Indian family celebrates this festival with same enthusiasm and joy.

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It’s a customary practice in the Hindu community to light Diyas in their homes at evening as it signifies the surrender of one’s soul to the almighty Diwali.  A Diya is also a personification of the self as Diya is made up of Clay, which represents our body and it also constitutes a cotton wick and oil. The wick in the Diya depicts our ego. Oil or ghee in lamp depicts our vasanas or negative thoughts. As the lamp burns to emit light for all, the oil (vasanas) slowly starts to deplete, the wick(ego) also burns out.The flame of the Diya always burns upwards – inspiring us towards higher ideals Likewise, when we lit ourselves by enlighten of spiritual knowledge  (flame), the “vasanas” get slowly exhausted with ego and fade out completely. The peerless lamp is Sun as it only gives and asks for nothing. That is why it is called a devata – the one who gives.

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The Festival of Diwali welcomes a change of season and a change of mood with the bells of festivity and holy rituals around every corner. The farmer thanks the “ The Almighty” for the harvests and pray for a prosperous harvesting season in the forthcoming year as it marks the end of the harvest season and the onset of winters. The traders after offering prayers to Lord Ganesha open a new book of accounts as it marks the beginning of the new financial year. India a country of unity in diversity is even diversified in beliefs when it comes to the celebration of Diwali each religion and state celebrates this festival with different notions and customs.

· Hindus – All Hindus celebrate Diwali as Lord Ram returned to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile and victory over Ravan.

· Jains – They celebrate this festival as on this day Lord Mahavira attained Moksha (the liberation of the soul from karma and the cycle of life and death). The next day of Diwali is celebrated as New Year in Jainism.

·Sikhs – The festival of Diwali is celebrated by Sikhs since 1577 as the foundation stone of Golden Temple is placed on this day and also, the 6th of 10 gurus of Sikhism’s “Guru Hargobind” is released on this day along with 52 others who were detained in Gwalior Fort by Mughal emperor Jahangir.

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It even amazes me sometimes that a simple festival could hold so different meaning for so many people and how some stories are still unrevealed. The tag of Incredible India couldn’t be better suited to any country other than India. But, the series of stories still have few more stories to amaze you. Likewise different states hold different tradition to celebrate Diwali; however, the purpose of peace and happiness remain same for all.

Eastern India ( West Bengal, Kolkata, Odisha, Tripura, And Assam )

Most Indians worship goddess Lakshmi on Diwali. Here, Diwali is celebrated as Kali Puja and the night of Diwali is considered as Night of Pitripurush(ancestors). They believe their ancestors descend on the day of Diwali from Heaven and to invite them they burn jute sticks and reiterate.

.“Badabadua ho Gandhara e as a aluaa e jaao baaisi pahacha e gadagadau thaao”(Meaning: oh!! our ancestors, seers and gods you came on the dark night of mahalaya, and now it is time for you to depart for heaven, so we are showing light, may you attain peace in abode of Jagannatha!)

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Southern India ( Chennai, Banglore, and Hyderabad)

Diwali comes on Tamil month of Aipasi in south India. It starts from Dhanatrayodashi and extends till Yama Dwitiya. Dhanatroypdashi is just the other name of Dhanteras which is same as other places and the second day is celebrated as Naraka Chaturdashi which can be also called as Choti Diwali The third day is celebrated as Diwali also known as Kali chadus on this day they worship “ Kul Devi to cast off evil spirits but unlike other states they have different significance as the day before on “Naraka Chaturdashi” Lord Krishna killed the asura ( demon ) Naraksura and took the oil bath to get rid of Naraksura blood. To solemnize people start doing the same as they believe that on this day goddess Ganga consecrate the water and goddess Lakshmi will consecrate the oil. On Naraka Chaturdashi in some states, people create a paper-made effigy of Narakasura and filled it with the firecracker and burn it in the morning. The fourth-day Padwa also known as Bali Padyami and fifth-day Bhaiduj is also known as Yama Dwitiya is celebrated similarly to northern states.

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Western India ( Gujarat, Maharastra, and Rajasthan )

The celebration of Diwali commences a day before comparing to other states of India. Here, The first day is known as Vasubaras which they celebrate by worshipping cow and its calf – as it’s a symbol of mother and child love. The next day is Dhan Trayadashi or Dhanteras followed by Naraka Chaturdashi and a day after Lakshmi puja or Diwali Then Bali pratipada and Lastly, Bhai Bij which is also known as Bhai Doj in which sisters pray for the prosperity and happiness of their brothers.

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Northern India ( Delhi, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh )

The bells of the festive season start ringing for them with the sounds of crackers Dusshera which comes few weeks before Diwali. From where everyone started preparing for Diwali by painting and cleaning their homes, buying gifts and decorating their houses with lights for Diwali. But, the main chores start with Dhanteras in which people worship Lord Kubera (The God of wealth ) and also buy gold and silver ornaments or utensils in order to bring luck and prosperity in their homes. Followed by Choti Diwali where people decorate their houses with diyas and rangoli and offer prayers to their God. The next day is celebrated as Diwali in which people in invite friends and family to exchange presents and sweets and also to pray along with everyone for happiness peace and prosperity. The fourth day people do Goverdhan Puja and next day celebrate Bhai-duj.

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Whatever may be the eccentric philosophies or customs associated with the celebration of Diwali. The ideology to welcome positive vibes, worship God for blessing and to start the beginning of the new season with happiness and joy remain the same for all. The twinkling colorful lights illuminate every household with brightness and positivity and the fragrance of sandalwood and agarbatis , color of rangoli and recitations of prayer in every temple and household make you realize the prominence and exclusivity of Indian festivals and tradition.


 


This article was originally created for, and published on www.gounesco.com, a UNESCO supported umbrella of initiatives that makes heritage fun, written by Arundhati Bhande.

We belong to a society that is forgetting to appreciate the handicrafts that have been passed down to us over generations. Moreover, we are forgetting to appreciate the artists who keep the fire burning.  One such community of artists are the copper artisans from Pune, Maharashtra- the Tambat Ali Workers.

They are a community that settled in Pune around 400 years ago; the Peshwas being their first patrons. The community that was once the talk of the town has been sidelined with the advent of stainless steel and plastic utensils.

Aware of the fact that the pots they get a few hundred rupees for are being sold for thousands in the market, they have no option but to continue with their art, desperately hoping that none of the future generations have to suffer.

Meet the workers of Tambat Ali and get to know their everyday struggles.

1. “When I was younger, my foot and thighs would hurt a lot while hammering the design on the piece and using the foot for support. Now I have become used to it. I can keep my foot still for half an hour while I am finishing a piece, this ensures that the consistency is maintained.” Ganesh Karde was 18 when he started working with copper, it has been 25 years since.

 

2. “I have a degree in Bachelors of Commerce, the constant sound of hammering has affected my hearing, but this is the only job I can do the best. I wear gloves while working because I have clammy hands and the moisture may leave black marks on the copper.” Ajit Pimpale is from the third and the last generation of copper workers from his family.

 

3. “I don’t work after 5 PM because the light isn’t good enough, the bulb is of little help. Some of us still work after sundown but I can’t.”

 

This photo story has been created by Arundhati Bhande. She is among the 20 students a.k.a heritage enthusiasts from The Symbiosis Centre for Media and Communication who participated in the Make Heritage Fun! event held on 26th March 2017, in Pune, India.


Join Nazariya at Sargaalaya as we rediscover our Artistic Heritage Together


Sargaalaya, the Kerala Arts and Crafts village in Kerala, is an initiative of the Department of Tourism, Government of Kerala. It is an exclusive place where you can not only pick a product fashioned by the traditional artisans of Kerala but also learn one or two lessons in the subtleties of crafts-making. While designed as a tourist destination, Sargaalaya is also a platform for exhibition, sales, and craft-making. The tourist can have face-to-face interaction with the artisans showcasing their life-long achievements, and maybe learn a thing or two!

We, at Nazariya, focus on building a platform where you can not only purchase unique handmade products, but also discover the behind-the-scenes of who makes them, what their story is, and experience their journey in a way you could have never imagined before. Our aim is to provide a platform to the artisans and help them showcase their talents and handiwork to the masses. We also organize workshops to allow the people to gain better insight into how the artist’s mind works, what nuances go into making a single piece of craft, and help them learn a few basics themselves.

The core values of Sargaalaya and Nazariya are the same; revisiting art forms. The only difference is that we focus more on how to revive dying forms of art around the world. The thought is the same but the thinkers are different.

Given below are some art forms that Nazariya would be focusing on presenting at Sargaalaya International Arts and Craft Festival- 2016.

 

  1. Wood Carving

“Exquisite Wood Craft from Amer, Rajasthan. Available on our website.”

Wood carving is a form of woodworking done by a cutting tool (knife) in one hand or a chisel in two hands or with one hand on a chisel and one hand on a mallet, to make a wooden figure or figurines of deities, like Buddha and Ganesha. It originated in Rajasthan in the 17th century. Intricately carved wooden doors and windows in palaces and havelis are testimonies to its popularity in the medieval era. In fact, even today this craft is practised extensively in various parts of Rajasthan.

 

  1. Phad Painting

“Ethnic tribal royalty painting in Rajasthan.”

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Phad painting is a style religious scroll painting and folk painting practised in Rajasthan, state of India. Phad painting is traditionally done on a large piece of cloth or Canvas known as Phad. The paintings are the life of two legendary Rajasthani heroes, Pabuji and Devnarayan ji, who are worshipped as the incarnation of lord Vishnu and Laxman. While the story is narrated using songs and dance, the visual impact is provided by the phad.

  1. Miniature Painting

“Radha and Krishna as depicted in a miniature painting.”

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Miniature paintings are beautiful handmade paintings which are often vibrantly colored, but as the name suggests, very small in size. Also, very intricate and detailed work goes into making them, which further gives them a unique identity. The art of miniature painting was introduced in India by the Mughals, who brought this art form from Persia. Here, the themes mainly depicted are court scenes, gardens, forests, palaces, stories of Lord Krishna, love scenes, and battles.

   4. Puppetry

“Kathputlis in Rajasthan.”

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Puppetry has always held an important place in traditional entertainment. Like traditional theatre, themes for puppet theatre are mostly based on epics and legends. Puppets from different parts of the country have their own identity, and regional styles of painting and sculpture are reflected in them. Like the string puppets from Rajasthan are known as Kathputli, similarly string puppets of Orissa are known as Kundhei, and puppets from Tamil Nadu known as Bommalattam.

   5. Gond Art

“Tribal Gond art”

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Gond Art is a reflection of India’s largest Adivasi community called Gonds in Bhopal. It is the art of stories, the art of spirituality and is believed to bring good luck. The Gonds were storytellers who used to narrate the stories glorifying the king and this was the main source of their livelihood. The Gonds painted their walls with lively portrayals of local flora and fauna and gods and the art form is created by putting together dots and lines. Here the artists use colours developed by charcoal, plants sap, cow dung and leaves.

The passion and heart that the artisans put into creating these art forms are what distinguish them truly. Every art form has a deep history, a deeper soul, and this year at Sargaalaya International Art and Craft Festival, Nazariya is going to help voice their stories.

“Let’s live history together”


Author: Noah Unathraj

Image Source: http://www.thehindu.com/multimedia/dynamic/02510/14TH_KINNERA_2510681e.jpg

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see”, quoted the famous French artist Edgar Degas. Yes indeed in my perspective art is something more imaginative, profound and absorbing to the human soul. It frees out mind and body from the busy mauhauul of everyday life and looking up to something which is delightful and engrossing in a heartfelt manner. Art is the involuntary susceptibility that an insaan feels in a warm way. India is “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” unity in diversity hence has engulfed emulsions of many art forms and has become the hunting ground for souls of peoples engrossed in art. Today I am to present you something of an art which has lost its prominence 4 centuries ago. Though it has not totally died down precisely, it has almost been on the verge of extinct but has some time ago resurged back to life by none other than Mister Darshanam Mogilaiah the one of the very few survivors of this extricated instrument titled “The Kinnera” (a string instrument).

A  re-known artiste of the Telangana state, in fact the one person in the country playing the 12-step kinnera, hailing from Ayusaolni kunta village of the Mahabubnagar district in Telangana state. He belongs to a low esteemed family where his forefathers have dedicated their lives in an urge to empower and boost up the spirits of the people to take part in freedom struggle against the British by playing the instrument and singing patriot songs in synch. The “Dakkali” tribe has put in their flesh and soul for design and working of the instrument, has actively participated in the freedom movement. “Dakkali” have been a Chenchu race breed and brought up through odds and slavery right from the start by the landlords and the upper caste people in the society and hence in order to revolt against them have invented the device to unite the people of all the lower caste in their society and have struggled for their freedom and fought their way out.   

Kinnera is a stringed instrument like Desi Veena, has 12 steps which is able to produce 12 different tunes with the 2 strings that are mounted on them. The instrument uses bamboo for the neck, dried and hollowed gourds for resonators, human hair or animal nerves for strings and pangolin scales for frets which are fixed using honey-wax. According to Adivasi studies state that the Chenchus have lost the instrument half century ago when the gourd used for resonator became extinct in this region. This has come into lime light while researching about Panduga Sayanna a Telangana fighter. The dakkali singers sang in his praise using “Kinnera”.  It has almost taken 3 years to trail out and explore this history through the help of Dakkali Pochaiah.

Darshanam Mogilaiah

Image Source: http://cdn.deccanchronicle.com/sites/default/files/Moghulayya_0.jpg

Darshanam Mogilaiah aged 65 has been the forerunner of this instrument now. He belongs to “Madiga Mastin” tribe which is a sub-caste of community. He has been a master of this art and 5th generation artiste in the family which has been playing the “Kinnera”. He is skilled at frolicking the 12 step music singing mostly in praise of Meera Saab who according to a legend, lived during the Wanaparthy Samsthan 400 years ago in Mahabubnagar. Meera Saab, a Robinhood-type do-gooder, used to rob the rich and feed the poor. His ancestors constructed the kinnera with 8 steps or more, Mogilaiah is the only one to build up to 12 steps to produce different tunes with the 2 strings. He uses dried fruit, coconuts or dried horns positioned at 12 places on the instrument, helping generate a different type of music. The ‘twelve frets’ of the Kinnera are made of ‘bull horn’, who have been his treasure which are permanent while the others when worn out can be replaced. He speaks “The Chiluka (parrot) is also a very important element of my Kinnera as it starts dancing along with me in many of my rhythmic songs.” He says people must recognize the sacrifice being made to protect the heritage of the local songs and rising voice on social issues through his family tradition.

With times and advent of electronic instruments, it’s on the wane- perhaps extinct. He is perhaps among the few living bards who can play the instrument and perform. This enthralling singing in hand with the instrument is an experience to live up. He just doesn’t want to be recognized as a performer of this wonderful instrument, but preserve the art of it. Through his endeavors he has received a fillip in the form of Dasari Ranga, a research scholar of Osmania University, who is doing a thesis on “Karshaka Geetalu” (folk songs of agricultural workers) has arranged a program to showcase the art resulting in authorities of Telugu University and University oh Hyderabad (UoH) for introducing a course on kinnera folk art for which Mogilaiah could be an instructor.    

Music is the entity which binds a person together irrespective of his caste, creed and color. Even though its origin is from the flock flare it has found out its way through and has been an important criterion in enhancing and encouraging the morale of the people even at hardships, thought dead has risen out now in order to re-mesmerize back the people and showcase its versatility on the world stage and give the while a wider perspective of so many such art forms which are there lying underneath waiting for an opportunity for them to be resurged back to life.    


This article was originally created for, and published on www.gounesco.com, a UNESCO supported umbrella of initiatives that makes heritage fun.
By Somok Roy

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Bhaskar Chitrakar painting a traditional theme. Photo credit: Somok Roy Heritage

Characterized by fluid curves and flat bright colours, Kalighat painting occupies an important place in the history of Indian art. It was the urban and reformed version of the Midnapore school of Patachitra, a scroll painting tradition of Bengal.  Liberating itself from the confines of religious narratives, it went on to comment on the contemporary socio-political phenomena. The rustic folk simplicity was replaced by the emerging complexities of city life.

In the early 19th Century, rural patuas (the community of Patachitra painters traditionally carried the surnames ‘Patua’ and ‘Chitrakar’) from Midnapore migrated and settled around the Kalighat temple, on the banks of Adi Ganga. Kalighat being a major pilgrimage center attracted thousands of devotees round the year.

The devotees wanted to carry something as souvenirs on their way back from this sacred place, and the locally available, cheap paper painting was the only affordable option. In the memoirs and travelogues of the European travelers, these paintings have been called ‘Bazaar paintings,’ a description that carries a sense of inferiority when compared with the Occidental standards of art.

This is primarily because the painters lacked the sense of perspective, and the linear rhythm of human figures miserably failed to impress the lovers of realism. Kalighat painters faced draconian competition from the ever-expanding market of lithographs and cheap oleographs and gradually disappeared by the 1930s.

The Midnapore roots

The medium of scroll painting has a vibrant history in this part of the continent. In an age when the society and economy were primarily agrarian, bards toured from village to village with their painted scrolls, unfolding the world of Puranic epics and folk myths to the curious audience.

These demonstrations were accompanied by narrative songs. The Cherial paintings of Andhra Pradesh, Phadpaintings of Rajasthan, and Patachitras of Bengal and Orissa are part of this vivid and arresting storytelling tradition. Patuas of Midnapore used scrolls known as ‘jorano pat,’ which were executed on cloth and could be rolled easily.

There were divisions within the patua community on the basis of the duration of tours. The ‘Duari patuas’ travelled from door to door throughout the day in nearby villages and returned home by night. The ‘Doori patuas’ travelled long distances, exhibiting their works and narrating stories.  The themes were from folk literature. Episodes from the ‘Mangal kavyas,’ creation myths, magic and cult-rituals, agrarian lives, pantheistic practices such as ‘pahar puja,’ and Hindu epics were painted and sung.

Changing times- Stylised Midnapore paintings, quite different from the traditional style. (Unfolding a Painted World: Revisiting Kalighat Paintings)

Changing times- Stylised Midnapore paintings, quite different from the traditional style.

From Midnapore to the Mecca of arts

Initially, the Kalighat school produced images of Hindu Gods and Goddesses, keeping in mind the target audience. The rolling scrolls were replaced by rectangular sheets. Cheap mill made paper was used for painting, but the painters retained the tradition of using natural colours.

The outlines were painted in black using lampblack, which was later filled in with bright flat colours. Turmeric was used for yellow, red chilies for red, indigo for blue and so on… The paintings acquired a semi-classical finesse due to the application of colloidal tin for the purpose of depicting jewellery.

Secular themes entered the painters’ world soon and Kalighat school emerged as a satirical genre, highlighting the inherent hypocrisy of the society. Their detailed observation of an evolving social class helped them to produce symbolisms in art, which could be interpreted as important sources of modern Indian history.

The flamboyant Bengali nouveau riche or the urban elite has been the favorite theme of the Kalighat painters for their ostentatious display and extravagant lifestyle. These paintings unveil the pretentious mannerisms of the nouveau riche by the use of subtle metaphors and visual allegories, which have become an integral part of the Kalighat iconography over time.

Kalighat painting is perhaps one of the best primary sources to reconstruct the social history of the19th Century ‘Babu culture’ which flourished in Calcutta. ‘Babu indulging in sensuous pleasures with courtesans’, ‘Babu sitting on a chair and piping the hookah,’ ‘cat with the marks of a saint eating fish,’ ‘horse-race,’ ‘Elokeshi-Mohanto crime case’ were some popular themes.

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Babu with a concubine. Photo credit: banglapedia.org

The painting of a young attractive lady sitting in voluptuous posture with her right hand raised above her head, holding a rose in each hand, titled ‘Golapsundari’ is an evidence of the eternal fact that the essence of Indian aesthetics flows down the ages evermore.

Gopalsundari, or the 'rose beauty'. Photo credit: Nibaran Chandra Ghosh/banglapedia.org Drawing Woman with roses; Kalighat painting by Nibaran Chandra Ghosh of a seated courtesan with roses. Calcutta, ca. 1900. Nibaran Chandra Ghosh Calcutta Ca. 1900 Watercolour on paper

Gopalsundari, or the ‘rose beauty’. Photo credit: banglapedia.org

Similar ‘nayikas’ have been painted earlier by miniature painters of North India. The patuas also painted nationalist heroes like Rani Lakshmi Bai, and scenes from everyday life.

The Ultimate Autumn

The legendary painter, art critic and scholar, Mukul Dey, who collected some priceless works of the Kalighat school ( a major part of it was acquired by art historian W.G Archer during 1930s, and many of these paintings are exhibited in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London) wrote in 1932 :

These pictures have now entirely vanished. The artist craftsmen are nearly all dead, and their children have taken up other business. In the place of these hand-drawn and hand-painted pictures selling at two or four pice each, garish and evil-smelling lithographs and oleographs – quite appalling in their hideousness – have come. The old art is gone forever – the pictures are now finding their last asylum in museums and art collections as things of beauty which we cannot let die.

Kalighat paintings

A contemporary take on traditional icons. Photo credit: Somok Roy Heritage

One of the last practitioners of this art to have received international recognition and critical acclaim is Kalam Patua. He reinvented the Kalighat style by painting contemporary themes and yet retaining the stylized pattern of the traditional works. His paintings are housed in galleries and museums such as the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, The Museum of Sacred Art, Belgium, etc..

The alleys and by-lanes of Kalighat buzz with life from the dawn-break. But practically none of the residents and shop-owners are aware of the rich painting tradition which once flourished here. I accidentally met the only custodian of this great tradition, residing in the vicinity of the temple, Bhaskar Chitrakar, who is arduously trying to revive the art form. His unflagging efforts do not seek beneficial opportunities, but the admiration and appreciation of a true ‘rasik’.