Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Diwali Lights

Rangoli/ Alpana designs on my porch.
Different parts of India celebrate Diwali or Dipavali a little differently but what remains constant are lights. Lots of frickin' lights.
In Bengali culture, Diwali coincides with Kali puja and typically it is a huge affair. Everyone gets dressed up in the evenings to walk around the neighborhood and take darshan of the local Kali thakur, clay forms of the Goddess and decorates their homes with candles, ghee lamps and electric lights. While I do enjoy Kali puja, I love decorating the home with lights and alpana even more which is why my favorite festival has to be Lakshmi puja.
In South India women decorate their homes with rice flour mandalas or kolams daily and ancient kolams range from the simple to ridiculously elaborate and intricate designs.
My last edition was my sloppiest, my back was aching.
In North India the use of a wide variety of colored powders, sand and flour are used to make rangolis. Vivid and bright-- red, yellow, green, orange and blue are not only beautiful to look at but also liven up the atmosphere and look very festive.
Tealight candles illuminate the walkway to my doorstep.
I prefer the traditional rice flour method as it is bright enough to show on even dark surfaces and will stay longer when dried. You make a paste by soaking some rice flour in water preferably overnight. When you're ready to use your paste, simply add more water to your desired consistency. I like it thin and apply it with a cotton ball or my hands but you could use pretty much anything from your hands to a paintbrush, or even a stencil blotter..
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