Wednesday, January 14, 2015

sun and spring

Thought behind the thought
The Sun is the most important celestial object. It gives us light and life, and in the Indian subcontinent, it dictates the climate, the crops, the festivals and the entire gamut of human activity through different times of the year. Of course, the monsoon is another equally important player!But he is a guest, the Sun is family.

Thinking of the onset of 'Uttarayan' or the northward journey of the Sun in the Indian skies, I had this visual of Sun, the groom, riding his processional horse chariot across the skies, blazing with beauty. The world left cold by his absence suddenly comes to life with his advent.

And spring follows slowly after him, just like a newly wedded bride in her yellow saree would, with slow shy steps. One new leaf at a time, with the promise of fertility. One new flower at a time, colouring her cheeks as she settles down in her new life on earth, only to become 'Summer' the confident the lady of the house in another two months and the prosperous 'Grihaswamini' draped in green soon enough.

These visuals are of course inspired by the customs and rituals in my part of the world, Maharashtra. Nature, and hence customs and analogies inspired by it change across the region, giving rise to a diverse and vibrant "Indian" culture.

Art, Craft and Design
Indian festivals have always been related very closely to the changes in climate and Nature has played a very important role in all the rites and rituals associated with them. Makar Sankrant, that celebrates the Uttarayan in Maharashtra, is one such festival. Newly wedded brides and new born babies are the heroes of the celebration, and they are dressed in black clothes and decked up in literally ' sweet' jewelry (halwa, in Marathi) , all made out of sugar !

In the olden times, when the ladies of the house did not take up 'Art" as a profession, they found these occasions perfect to practice and display their art.

The technique was difficult, beginning with the making of perfect 'halwa' or sugar beads. The proportions and consistency of the sugar syrup, the way the beads were made by constantly stirring the syrup around a central seed ( til or sesame / sabudana or sago/ khuskhus or poppy, depending on the size of halwa required), and then strung together, meticulousness and creativity was required at every step of jewelry making.

An amazing variety of designs can be seen in this intricate form of jewelry. It is an art and skill rapidly diminishing in the modern day and age, where women have neither the time nor the inclination to create or wear such jewelry. Sad, but true! May be, we could look at this afresh, as a work of 'art' rather than just another cumbersome piece of tradition?

Credits and Source of Information

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