Some of the terracota diyas that I have painted this year
One of the most common aims of people is to build a home for themselves. Though there is nothing wrong in wanting to have one’s own nest, it is necessary to realise the temporary nature of this need. Then, you will not feel like a failure if for some reason you end up not having your own home.
The Vamana Purana proposes a solution to this human need when it documents a very domestic conversation between the divine couple Shiva and Parvathi. Once, the goddess felt like picking on her husband. She declared that she felt inadequate whenever she was referred to as the lady of his house. When Shiva tried to laugh off the comment, his better half expressed her desire to discuss the matter seriously. She pointed out that she had been running her household in the wilderness and snowcapped mountains ever since she threw her lot with him. They had never had a roof above their heads for as long as they had been married, let alone a home.
Shiva wore an expression of helplessness and said that he did not have enough resources to construct a house for them. Nevertheless, he added that he had always ensured that his wife would not be exposed to the elements come what may. After all, during summers they would enjoy the cool shade when they camped under the massive green trees and they would live above the rain clouds to avoid getting wet during the rainy seasons. The caves in the hearts of the mountains would take care of their winter needs. Parvathi could not but agree with her lord. After all, she had enjoyed living in the open without being restricted by borders or walls.
The whole world seemed to be her home when the vast expanse of the earth formed the flooring of her home and the immeasurable star-spangled skies her ceiling. Besides the constant company of Shiva whom she loved with all her heart made the universe the best ever home for her.
They say home is where the heart is. If we learn to love those around us and our environment, we cannot have a better home.
Denizens of Namma Bengaluru are treated to dollops of street art every now and then. More recently, the painting of a swimming pool in and around a large pothole captured a lot of attention. The painting seemed to come alive when somebody captured a realistic snapshot of a random pedestrian trying to step in gingerly into the painted waters holding the bars of the ladder and uploaded it onto social media.
The picture sent me on a nostalgic trip down the busy streets of our city a couple of decades ago. Just about every Saturday, a couple of kids would appear at around 4 pm with brooms and fine brushes. They would clean up a patch of the ground measuring the size of a small carpet. An hour later, their master would come and quickly draw the border lines without using any instrument. Charcoal powder or white rangoli powder would be evenly spread on the floor. Then the master would draw another border around it.
Within a matter of an hour, he would be going round and round drawing the outline. Gods and goddesses from the Hindu pantheon would emerge magically as he deftly coloured and gilded their ornaments. Once done, he would rest on the platform with his young companions, waiting for the footfalls to linger there. The public would offer prayers and place a coin carefully along the demarked borders before proceeding.
For kids like us, it happened to be the staple weekend all-round exposure to the arts, culture and resourcefulness. No one, except an occasional gust of wind or a spell of rains, would disturb the work of art till it earned bread for its creators until the next weekend.
These artists, though torn apart by time and space have managed to strike a chord and have warmed the hearts of many who have been exposed to their works. They have managed to make us not only appreciate their work but also reflect on it, even if only momentarily. These artists who unleash their creativity with confidence and Ã©lan silently remind us how a piece of fine art can warm the cockles of our heart and ruminate on matters beyond the mundane. They serve soups to our souls and hence it becomes our moral responsibility to sustain them and their art. For art is long and life is short!
Perhaps, this is what Khalil Gibran’s meant when he said:
“And if there come the singers and the dancers and the flute players – buy of their gifts also.
And that which they bring, though fashioned of dreams, is raiment and food for your soul.
And before you leave the marketplace, see that no one has gone his way with empty hands.
For the master spirit of the earth shall not sleep peacefully upon the wind till the needs of the least of you are satisfied.”
Learning classical music introduces the learner into an amazing world of music.
When the venerable bard said, “If music be the food of soul play on,” he was probably not aware of the fact that Indians had already realised the value of naada bramham and had even designed a meticulous way to celebrate it.
Ancient Indians believed that when the sun shone on the stellar constellation of Sagittarius the ‘Brahma Muhurtham’ set in, ushering in a new day to the very gods. This short phase of early dawn in the life of the Gods stretches out into a month in the life of us who are mere mortals.
The Dhanur Maasa which falls between mid December and mid-January has been celebrated in a very unique manner in South India. When one would ideally like to stay up late in bed, traditionalists get up before the crack of dawn, bathe and cleanse themselves and offer prayers to the Gods. The Dhanur Maasa also doubles up as a month where young girls can showcase their talent by drawing beautiful rangolis outside their homes and also display their ability to sing. In fact the entire month is celebrated as the ‘Musical Month’ in Chennai when venerated classical musicians and instrumentalists fill the air with their cadence.
The unique feature of this festive month lies in the fact that it is celebrated in a very exclusive way. Temples open their doors way before the first ray of the sun appears in the horizon. Earthen lamps are lit not only in the temples but also at the doorsteps of the homes of people to light the way for wayfarers during the misty hours of the morning. Classical music concerts are held for an hour or two in the wee hours of the morning to celebrate the precious moments of the ‘Brahma Muhurtham.’
It has been proved that music has therapeutic values. The electronic world has made the world’s best music available on a platter. Yet not everything seems to be well in the world of music. Gone are the days when the parents and the family of the child spent quality time with their young ones visiting live classical music concerts thereby inducing a love and respect for traditional music. Today music at best means film or album music to the growing youngsters. They relish loud and fast music with insensible and sometimes crass lyrics. Perhaps if parents introduce the child to classical music a lot of aspects of the child can be honed.
Learning any type of classical music be it Karnatic, western or Hindustani will introduce the learner into an amazing world of music. It will be an eye-opener for them to know that there are infinite possibilities to use the seven basic notes of music in various permutations and combinations. They will imbibe a sense of time (tala/beat) and precision in the course of learning. They will understand the science and mathematics behind classical music. Once they grapple the subtle nuances of the basics they will be able to adapt to any other genre of singing like folk, pop, ghazals—the list is endless.
It is high time to introduce the children to the world of music to overcome their personality disorders like lack of focus, indiscipline and occasional delinquency.