Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Deepa Soundarya 2009 - Inaugural Function

L-R: Sri D. Ram Singh, Chairman, Ramsons Kala Pratishtana; Chief guest Dr. Doddarange Gowda; Raghu Dharmendra.

Chief guest with Srikantha Sharma of Srirangapatna who created the 'Kamakshi Deepa' which is seen in the background.

Dr. Doddarange Gowda recited three poems which he specially composed for the event.

Lighting the lamp to formally inaugurate the event.

Dr. Dileep Kumar explaining the unique aspects of the exhibits to the chief guest.

Executive Trustee of Ramsons Kala Pratishtana, Sri M.B. Singh wielding his legendary wit. Sri Singh is a former Editor of Kannada publications Prajavani (daily newspaper), Sudha (weekly magazine) and Mayura (monthly magazine).

Sri R.G. Singh, Secretary, Ramsons Kala Pratishtana, with the chief guest.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Lamp Speaks a Thousand Words

One might wonder what’s with a small container that is used to light a lamp. Such doubting Thomases should see the variety of lamps that is lit during Diwali, undoubtedly ‘THE’ festival of India. Millions and millions of earthen lamps are lit across the sub-continent on the darkest night of the year. Most of them are modest earthen containers devoid of any embellishments. But that is just the beginning. Many people will resort to decorate their deeyas themselves with colours, trinkets, etc.

The shape, size, colour of lamps take a creative spin in the hands of aesthetically inclined. Not a colour is spared to splash the lamps with. Pot, star, square, conch, butterfly, flower, leaf, fruits, paisley, swan, folded hands, parrot, peacock, ganesha, etc. shapes are moulded into lamps. Mirrors, sequins, svarowsky crystals, etc., are used to embellish the modest lamp.

Nowadays one doesn’t just want to light a plain deeya, they want to light one that is a beautiful piece of craft. Each of these handmade lamps are lovingly made by an artisan. By buying such handicraft products one is patronising the craft thereby giving livelihood to a crafts person and also help greatly to keep the art alive.

Innumerable varieties of lamps are available at this exhibition. Clay lamps from four craft pockets - Kengeri, Jaipur, Varanasi and Shantiniketan - are on display. Bronze lamps of Natchiarkoil, Tamilnadu are evergreen favourites in the traditional households. Tall deepada kamba and deepada mallis look divine when lit in the family altar.

The copper enamel lamps from Maharashtra will look great even in the stylish interiors of a modern house. Brass lamps from Uttar Pradesh are low on cost but heavy in traditional embellishments. White metal deeyas of Hatras and glass lamps of Firozabad add a touch of modernity to the ancient world of oil lamps.

Lamps hewn out of chlorite schist stone is the work of Mysore artisans. These lamps will appeal more to interior designers for they look good both inside as well as outside the house. The master craftsmen of Bangalore have cast beautiful bronze lamps, one more exquisite than the other. These objets de art in addition to brightening up the most sacred space of your home, will certainly become a family heirloom.

That’s not all. Diwali is the time of happy tidings and well being. Giving presents is as sacred a custom as lighting a lamp. A beautiful lamp can be an apt gift for anybody. A lamp represents health, knowledge, love, security, warmth and well being. By gifting a lamp one is conveying all these positive wishes.

This Deepavali, gift a lamp, gift the light of hope, happiness and prosperity.

Poems on Deepa Soundarya

Dr. Doddarange Gowda, the eminent poet and littérateur composed above three poems specially for this year's Deepa Soundarya exhibition and he recited them during the inauguration of the exhibition.

2009 Inaugural Invitation

2009 Brochure

Lamps, the home of Agni

His name is the first word of the first hymn of the Rig Veda, making him the most ancient and most important of Vedic gods. He is Agni, the fire-god. There he is described as the lord of the sacrifice and the bringer of wealth, because it was fire that connects the realm of man (earth) with the realm of the gods (sky). Its smoke rises up and takes the offerings of man, the hymns and the oblations, to the celestial realms. Naturally Agni was an important god – the mouth of the gods, the messenger, the intermediary between the temporal and the celestial.

Fire plays a special role in human life. Humans are the only living creatures on earth who have tamed fire. We can create it, we can put it out, we can control it, even though we fear it. And this is what differentiates us from plants and animals. This is what makes us human. Plants are helpless before fire. Animals are afraid of fire. Only humans use fire to cook food. We use fire to burn forests, clear the land and establish fields and villages. We contain fire in the sacrificial altar, in kitchens, in torches and most importantly in lamps.

The Agni in a lamp is the most domesticated form of fire. It is a single gentle flame standing still, like a Rishi in tapasya, emerging from the wick of the lamp. This makes Agni of the lamp the most auspicious form of Agni, to be contrasted from the inauspicious wild forest fires with a hundred thousand flames moving unbridled in every direction. In between these two extreme forms of fire are other domesticated forms of fire – bonfires which are lit in festivals such as Holi and Lohri, fires that are lit in the kitchen to cook food, fires that are integral to the Homas and Yagnas of the Brahmins, torch fires that are used to light the corridors the path as we travel at night.

Lamps therefore are associated with the Goddess Lakshmi. Just as domesticated land (the field) offers food, domesticated fire (the lamp) offers good luck and fortune. It creates around it a bright and warm circle of light in which one can sit and pray and study and feel safe. It is in this space that Lakshmi resides. In the festival of lamps, a lot of lamps are lit especially in the front of the house so that more light spaces are created to attract Lakshmi.

Traditionally, if a lamp goes out on its own when there is still enough oil, it indicates bad luck, for it means that though man thinks he has domesticated fire, forces greater than man (god? demon?) reject this domestication. They communicate by making the flame flutter and then putting it out completely. The form of the flame in a lamp thus is indicative of fortune. Great pains are taken to ensure the lamp light is still until the last drop of fuel in the lamp. A lamp that helps us do so is the most favored of lamps.
- Devdutt Pattanaik

For the second year Ramsons brings you the exhibition of lamps ‘Deepa Soundarya’ to herald the festival of lights - Diwali. Thousands of lamps from across the country in many hundred varieties which have been handcrafted from clay, stone and metal are set to enthrall you.

A beautiful lamp not only adds a quaint charm to the interiors but also helps keep alive the ancient tradition of handcrafted lamps which take birth either on the humble potter’s wheel or in the hands of a talented artisan. Come, take home beautiful lamps and welcome the goddess of prosperity into your abode of love.