Sunday, 16 January 2011

⠸ Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya ⠸

tamaso ma jyotir gamaya

Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya

Lead me out of the darkness in to the light.

It's festival time, Shankranti or Pongal. A time of cleaning the house, doing thorough Puja, (more cleaning, prayers and offerings to Gods). It's a harvest festival, a new beginning, a time to thank the cows for everything they provide here. A fresh start, a family time. It's lovely to be here now. I feel it washing through me too. Fresh air, bright light, a new skin.

So many smiles, children handing out sweets and bananas, everyone wearing their best clothes, their finery, the fanciest rangolis get drawn and boys drink beer late into the night and set off firecrackers. 


This is the Puja corner in our house, some homes have whole rooms dedicated to the very serious business of prayer and giving thanks. This all gets cleared away and cleaned thoroughly every few days and fresh flowers and fruit offered to the Gods every day... Meditation is done here and chanting and burning of incense. I always creep into the house in the mornings after yoga as Puja is often being done. I learned my lesson after blowing through the house one morning like a demented sunshine girl high on yoga. Noone said a word, but I knew I had to be a bit more serene on entering the house in future. It's lovely and reassuring to creep into the house soaked with the smell of incense and flowers and breakfast is cooking and my dear Pushpa is sitting in prayer looking so tranquil.


Happy Shankranti means the livestock gets dyed, decorated and even more revered than usual.. yesterday I saw luminous dayglo pink cows in our road and didn't have my camera ready and charged...I managed to find this decorated cow later, with green horns and a crown of marigolds. You might know this already but Hindus believe that Krishna is going to be reincarnated as a cow so the cow gets the royal treatment here. Fed and patted and loved by Indian housewives everywhere. The cows just take it all in their stride. And then a day of make up and flower wearing and body paint. Lucky Cows! 

Happy Shankranti means that in the evenings the children all put on their best clothes and take a tray of bananas and a sweet mixture of dried coconut, nuts, lentils and jaggery around to all the neighbours houses.
See below my little pot of deliciousness~I love this stuff!

shankranti sweets

On my travels, I wish Happy Shankranti to people and they give me little bags of this mix which I must always accept gracefully and then when I go to another part of town and they wish me Happy Shankranti I give them the little bags of mix I've just been given and we just move bags of this stuff all round town! Last night the children came round with bananas and we give them bananas so the whole exercise becomes a banana swopping marathon. Hilarious. I said to Pushpa, make sure you pick the best ones and we'll have them for breakfast. Luckily I had a bag of packets of colouring pens I'd brought with me so I was giving them to the kids and became Queen Shankranti herself, which is as it should be.

I met this girl earlier, she was stunning. They are all knocking themselves out with the outfits this festival. I've been invited to a wedding next month, I am hugely honoured and very excited about all the colour and ritual. Perhaps by then I'll be immune to it. I don't see how though. I am as usual over stimulated.


And because of Shankranti the rangoli is even more elaborate than usual. My love of rangoli is never ceasing. It's still hard for me to get my head around the fact that these patterns are usually poured from a handful of flour. The flick of a wrist and this is what happens. True artists. I've watched them in action, I've tried it. I am never ever going to be able to do that so beautifully.


I just record it because it's gone by the next morning and a fresh one applied. Or the husband comes home from work and parks the auto rickshaw on your hard work.

rickshaw obscuring art

Grounds for divorce?

Lots more rangoli images on my flickr page. I love it. It just makes me happy to think of the first job of the day is to wash the step and draw a new rangoli. Art and design and creativity first thing! And because it is made from rice flour the ants eat it which keeps them out of the kitchen (ants are a problem here but they are tiny little things or big big shiny ones, 
not inbetweeners like the UK ones)

What a brilliant brilliant beautiful way to solve a problem and bless the house at the same time. 

As you can see I am in ❤❤❤ with India 



Anonymous said...

It's not yet 6am in New York...what a lovely way to begin my day!
Oh! Thankyou for the postcard...The Man scanned it and emailed me!

Carol said...

What a beautiful post and how lucky are your readers to be able to share this wonderful experience with you.

Lizzie said...

Oh, you are sooooo lucky! I do want to come with you next time, Louise!
I love those Rangoli patterns. Amazing that Indian ladies make them with so little fuss, but they are so beautiful. Something wonderful about their transience too...
It made me laugh, when you mentioned husband coming home and parking on top of the Rangoli!
Enjoy your festivities - and bananas. X

(0v0) said...

Yes, such great eyes!

suzie said...

those rangolis……..I hear you Lou ~ that idea of starting the day washing the step and drawing just makes me flutter a little inside.
And those patterned hands……

….no wonder you are in love

gill said...

I love reading about your adventures in India! Fascinating! Please keep posting!!!

chocolategirl64 said...

I want henna patterned hands:

jax said...

Just been catching up on your posts from India, what amazing colours and patterns, just so beautiful. I'd just want to buy it all just so I could bring home some of the spirit of India!

ariana. said...

How nice that you were able to travel to India. I spent time there many years ago to see my sister who was studying music there. It is such a rich, complex and lovely place. They say that once you go you will always be called to return and I do feel that way. It was so nice to visit here and get to travel back for a bit with your lovely pictures. I hope you are having an inspiring and wonderful adventure. I can't wait to see what comes next. All the best, a

Sarah said...

Yes what a great way to start the day! And what a relaxed attitude to art-no need to save your fantastic creation. Is it like a meditation to make a rangoli pattern? The creative act and process more important than the finished article? They are lovely. I like the photo with the shadow and the rangol-it looks like a negative shadow. India looks so beautiful.