Lighting Up Your Lives

A woman arranges oil lamps and flowers around a Rangoli during the celebrations ahead of the Hindu festival of Diwali in Ahmedabad. Reuters

The effect of tiny gentle flames quivering in the dusky hours of chilly November nights has the power to warm up the cockles of the most indifferent hearts. Diwali perhaps could not have cast a similar spell on the Indian populace across the globe, had it been scheduled to be celebrated at some other time of the year.

We are fortunate to be living at a time when we have the choice to pick and choose from a plethora of lamps that come in all shapes and sizes, not to mention the range of materials. Traditional oil lamps, diyas filled with candle wax just ready to be lit, electric lamps, gaily coloured serial bulbs, lamps that flicker on the strength of batteries, LED lights, neon lights, we have them all. All you have to do is, pick the ones that please you best and light them up in every corner of your hearth and home and create a festive atmosphere.

The humble lamp made from baked clay looks best when they are put on pedestals or decorative lamp bases. They serve the practical purpose of keeping your floor from soiling, in case the oil spills. Besides, they also act as an aesthetic caution to people who may stumble over them inadvertently when placed all over the flooring.

Traditionally, colourful Rangolis made flour and flowers form beautiful lamp bases. Yet these days, not many people have the time or enough space to make several Rangolis in and around the house.

When you give a personal touch to the decorations, the result will be not only be unique but can also be a very fulfilling experience. You can achieve this end by decorating all the odd plates using ornate sticker bindis, flamboyant wedding cards, plastic flowers, laces, ribbons, sea shells, sequins, mirrors, marbles and several such trinkets found around your home.

* Lamp bases for oil lamps and candlewax diyas are best made from plates of non inflammable material.

* Paint a beautiful colourful rangoli on a large tray or plate and use it as a base.

* Bring out all the old and faded artificial flowers in your home and wash them clean. Pluck out the petals one by one and paint them using a bright fabric colour. Once the petals dry, they can be pasted very close to each other along the circumference of the chosen plate. If you have artificial leaves at your disposal, they too can be used for decoration in the same way.

* Bring out all the marbles at home and arrange them in a design of your imagination, before placing a lamp on it. You need not worry about accidental oil spills, because marbles are washable.

* If you have pistachio shells or sea shells around the home, paint them in different hues and paste them along the circumference of the plate. If you have little mirrors used in embroidery, toss them in the inner circle. They will enhance the brightness of the flame by reflecting them.

* The Aishwarya Rangoli (If you do not know the design, refer to it on the internet) is traditionally used on Diwali to usher in the wealth bestowed by goddess Lakshmi. A few meters of golden coloured lace pasted along the lines can lend grandeur to your lamp.

* Bring out a brass plate, polish it well, and paste kundan stones, ornate bindis or sequins on it in a pattern of your choice, before placing the lamp on it.

* If you have a sundry collection of coins, wash them clean using a dishwash soap and sort them out in terms of size and shape. Arrange them in the pattern of a rangoli on a plate and place the lamps. This is quite a creative way to represent goddess Lakshmi, and with some luck, welcome more of her.

* The lamp bases of electrified lamps or battery operated candles require less caution and give more scope to creativity.

* Painted ice cream sticks can be arranged aesthetically on hard boards or handmade paper and embellished with laces.

* Cut out the border designs of wedding cards and make a collage of them on hexagonal cardboard cutouts.

* Colourful paper can be cut out into petals, assembled as a large flower and glued together before using them as a base.

* Cups and plates made of betel leaves can be painted upon, and placed at even distances before placing bulbs of a serial light or LED lights in them.

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