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.


 


If you love stories then read along. Let us take you to the vivid world of scroll paintings! Here you will find paintings that would have you falling in love with the art that tells you the story as much as the story itself. Welcome to the world of Cheriyal Art!

 

 Cheriyal scroll painting depicting Indian Myth

               Cheriyal scroll painting depicting Indian Myth

 

 Types of Cheriyal art scrolls depicting different types of stories.

   Types of Cheriyal art scrolls depicting different types of stories.

Originated from the village of Cheriyal, 85 km from Warangal district of Telangana, Cheriyal scroll painting is a version of Nakashi art rich in Indian mythology motifs. Painted in a narrative format like that of a comic strip, Cheriyal art depicts stories from the Puranas and Epics. While they bear some resemblance to Madhubani paintings, they are intensely infused with local flavour that creates the uniqueness in Cheriyal art of storytelling.

Each Cheriyal Scroll painting is drawn on a khadi cloth opening with a piece of Lord Ganesha, followed by Goddess Saraswati. It’s way adopted by the artists to pay respect to the deities and seeking their blessings.

The technique of cheriyal scroll painting would tell you about the sophistication level as firstly they begin with applying a paste of tamarind seed along with tree gum and white clay. After applying three coats of this paste and allowing it to dry for a day or two, the scroll is finally ready for the further procedures. Now the artist draws the outline using a squirrel haired brush. Next is the turn for the predetermined colouring system. The red colour fills the background and blue and yellow colours are used for Gods and Goddesses respectively. While brown and darker shades are used for demons and pink skin tones are used for depicting humans.

Earlier natural dyes were used which were obtained from grounded sea shells, turmeric, vegetables etc. While today natural dyes are largely replaced by organic watercolors which are mixed with tree gum before applying on the scrolls. These paints are said to last over 300 years provided they don’t come in contact with water.

 D.Vaikuntham working on Cheriyal Art

        D.Vaikuntham working on Cheriyal Art

Today D.Vaikuntham’s family is only to practice the cheriyal art form, they have continued the Cheriyal tradition since the 15th century. They are the true masters of art form in this era. Apart from making the scroll paintings, the art has got a modified version of making masks in the same colour pattern and same themes of depicting the Indian mythologies as well. Due to the trouble of fitting in the modern world, the artists are forced to modify the art form.

The modified version of Cheriyal art as a mask

    The modified version of Cheriyal art as a                                                mask

Adapting the modern global changes is a major challenge for ancient art forms. It makes it difficult for them to breathe in with so many alternatives and replacements around but Cheriyal Art continues to survive. Ergo, an ancient tradition has been preserved with passion and zeal overflowing to keep it alive today and for coming generation!


Author: Seemab Alam

The art of stories, the art of spirituality and an art believed to bring good luck, Gond Art is the reflection of India’s largest adivasi community called Gonds who are of Dravidian origin and can be traced to the pre-Aryan era. The word Gond is derived from the word kond which means green mountains. The Gonds are a diverse group spreading over large areas from the Godavari valleys in the south to the Vindhya Mountains in the north. Also in Madhya Pradesh, they are settled in the dense forests of the Vindhyas, Satpura and Mandla in the Narmada region of the Amarkantak range for centuries.

The Gonds are traditionally believed to be storytellers, the Pradhan Gonds used to narrate the stories glorifying the king and this was mainly the source of their livelihood. While with the emergence of British, their downfall began. But it was during early 1980’s when Gond Art found its way back.

The Gond cultural tradition captures different aspects of Gond life- their deities, dance customs, bond with nature, myths, sagas and wisdom. In the early days the Gonds painted their walls with lively portrayals of local flora and fauna and gods. The mystical art form is created by putting together dots and lines and the artists used colours developed by charcoal, plants sap, cow dung and leaves in the early days, today mostly acrylic are used. Most of the paintings when perceived carefully impart a sense of movement to the still images.

While all these paintings are a tribute to nature, the Gonds belief upon the supernatural power is rather interesting. When interviewed Padmaja Srivastava (founder of the organisation-Gond Tribal Art) she says “It’s interesting to know that the Gonds do not believe in idol worship. While they stongly believe in Ramaini which is the mixture of Ramayan and Mahabharat.”

Also she talks about the same very passionately, quoting “I believe that Gond Art is a contemporary art. From paintings on the mud walls to paintings on the canvases, this art relates to many superstitions and belief. Every piece of art they paint portrays a story or a belief. They say these paintings bring good luck for them and protect them from evil spirits.”


BANA PAINTING

Image Source:- http://folkpaintingsindia.com/all-art/gond-art/bana.html

The above Gond Art is a creation by Mansingh Vyam, a Gond artist. This is a painting of the Bana which is also regarded as Bada Dev by the Gondi. Bada Dev (Great God) is invoked under a Saja tree by a Gond Pardhan.The Pardhans being the musicians, story-tellers, and genealogists of the Gonds, invokes Bada Dev by sitting under a Saja tree and playing a musical instrument called Bana. On listening to the melodious sound of the Bana, and the song sung by the Pardhan, Bada Dev awakens from his slumber and comes down the Saja tree. As very well illustrated in the painting.

Isn’t it beautiful to fancy how Gond art from paintings on the mud walls became so alluring on the canvases? Well, it was Jangarh Singh Shyam who first offered this art on the canvases using poster colours in the 1980’s and since then Gond Art has never looked back but only developed.

The entire concept of being rooted to the culture of their ancestors and believing in the ideology their forefathers believed, strengthens the Gond culture in an incredible way.

The exquisiteness of their culture and tales shall forever be cherished. The illusions of their art shall forever be hailed.