Thursday, January 30, 2014

Splash on White..

I get flown away with inspirations all the time, one of those inspirations which I want to share today comes from one of fabulous creations of nature - Snow, which I could not stop myself from sharing with my RangKatha audience.

Looking at, almost first snow of this winter this year in the part of the world I reside, I realized how beautiful Color White can be... and that is my inspiration of this post - Splash on white... Most of us (including me) would want different colors in our house. First thing after we acquire a house is think about what you want to paint your walls with.. which color, may be multicolor if possible ?? I am sure you would change your thinking after you see these amazing spaces.... . Ok, I will now stop talking and let you enjoy browsing these spaces. One last thing I want to say before I step back is for you to take a step back and see what a beautiful spaces white walls could offer you...

What do you say??? Breathtaking .. isn't it.. White really gives you free hand in terms of what you can splash agaist your walls, be it a colored furniture or colored fabrics or for that matter any colored accents.... You don't have to think even for a sec on what would go with your white walls..
Everything goes with white.. That is magic of white...Don't you agree?

Images: From Pinterest and Decor Mags.

Until I see you next time.. have a life as beautiful and pure as white..


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Sankranthi Muggulu(Rangoli) and Celebrations .........

Makara Sankranthi , First Festival for RangKatha! Not only that its the first Hindu festival of the year - Signifying the onset of Harvest season after couple months of cold weather in India.

Makara Sankranthi is among the most auspicious occasions for Hindus and is celebrated in almost all parts of India. It is a harvest festival and is celebrated in many cultural forms with immense devotion, fervor and cheerfulness from North India to down in South India. This festival is celebrated on 14th January and is possibly the only Indian festival whose date always falls on the same day each year with just a few exceptions.

The festival of Makar Sankranthi marks the change of the Sun into Makara Rashi (Capricorn) on its celestial path. This day is also known by various names and various traditions are witnessed as one experiences the festival in different states of India. But in spite of different geographical adaptations, the spirit behind the celebration is not any different.

This is a three-day festival, starting on January 13th until January 15th. No dought that I will need multiple posts even to come close to doing justice covering about this festival. Definitely that is not my intention today. We all have our own festive nostalgia tied to our unique celebrations and exclusive family customs. Today I would like bring up some of festive nostalgia tied to our unique celebrations and exclusive family customs I have been following since childhood.

In my native state of Andhra Pradesh, Sankrathi is all about Bhogi Mantalu (bonfires), Colorful muggulu (floor designs using chalk powder), Ratham Muggu on the D- day (Special pattern of design), Pattu langalu (Special dress girls wear), perantalu (Women folks sharing special gestures and gifts among each other), haridasulu gangireddulu ( Holy decorated cows) , patangulu (kite flying), fights over them, bommala koluvu (display of dolls), bhogi pallu(array of fruits), cheruku mukkalu (Sugarcane cubes), 5/10paisalu(cents) that go with them, 10 days of school holidays, Gobbemmalu (decorated Cow dung balls) and list goes on and on ..

Living away from country where I spent my childhood, today I go back my memory lane recollecting some of those exuberant childhood memories associated with Sankranthi. Sankranthi to girls (young or teens or beyond) has special significance which is centered around "Muggulu" (floor designs using chalk powder) made in their courtyards . Courtyards are swept and sprinkled with water or water mixed with cow dung and Muggu are drawn and decorated with Gobbemmalu. Where Gobbemmalu are the Cow dung balls and they are decorated with turmeric powder (pasupu), red vermion powder (Kumkuma), flowers and with nine different types of grains(NavaDhanyalu). Some times they are decorated with Pumpkin and seasonal fruits. Women go around these muggulu (rangolis) singing and dancing.

Cow dung has special significance religiously and scientifically. Religiously Gobbemmalu placed in your courtyards are supposed to invite prosperity and bliss into the house and scientifically you cannot find best organic fertilizer than cow dung. What can be a better occasion to fertile your courtyards and land around it than on the festival of harvest?

Indian festivals are full of color, cultures and customs and I am fortunate to have experienced every bit of this and cherish them for life. After all these years I have learnt that main sprit behind any festival is celebration of life, happiness and togetherness. I make all efforts to preserve our culture and pass it on to my kids but I am not sure if I will ever get chance to provide them with same level of experience of Sankranthi that I had experienced. I don't think my little girl will ever experience the fun of planning what Muggu will adore our front/courtyard along with her cousins and girlfriends and take every effort in making sure that our's is the best Muggu during Sankranthi in the neighborhood. Neither will my son be able to experience the fun involved in competition and fights around kite flying and fun of flying kites with his cousins and friends. But I make sure to involve my kids in the festivals we celebrate at home in such a manner that they can build their own moments around our family celebrations and cherish them for life. I share my experiences with them to build theirs on mine to cherish and follow and that is the sprit with which I celebrate every festival of ours and Sankranthi is no different!

What about you? What is your mantra of celebration? What do you celebrate ? Either its Sankranthi or Pongal or Poushali Bihu or Maghi or Lohri ? What ever it is, I wish you and your family all the happiness and would love to hear about your unique family customs, traditions and rituals. ~Prasanna

@Copyright- Pictures in this blog are taken by me and are captures from my home and those are property of RangKatha. You are free to use them but please do drop me a note before you do so. Others which are not signed by RangKatha are Google images.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Coasta Rican Pottery

Coasta Rica - Country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua on north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west, and the Caribbean Sea to the east. Meaning the “Rich Coast” in Spanish, Costa Rica was named by early Spanish explorers who imagined that the pristine beaches and the mountains covered with tropical rainforest held untold riches of gold and gems. The Spanish were both right and wrong. Costa Rica did turn out to be the “Rich Coast.” The country’s true riches were the beaches, volcanic mountains and rainforests.
During my travel to this amazingly beautiful country I found many gems myself interms of its nature, culture, people and handicrafts. Overall, it is the people of Costa Rica who really make the difference. With no military, Costa Rica has been able to invest heavily in education and health services. Country has one of the highest literacy rates in the Americas at over 95%, universal health care and lower crime rate.

Sounds like a paradise on Earth? This sure is one. That's why life here is referred as "Pura Vida" - means "Pure Life" !

Any new place I visit I always make sure to check out local handicrafts and of course bring few home. It so happened that this time I didn't have to go looking for them, instead I can say they found me. As I walked out of my beautiful resort towards beach in front it, I see this lovely CostaRican lady walking towards me with all kinds of handicrafts to sell. She fascinated me with her mannerisms and mix of Spanish and English, "Span-Lish" as I call it and within no time she convinced me to look at what she wanted to sell.

She had lots of different types of jewelry and also something else in her bag which I was curious to see. What she showed me didn't need any effort from her in grabbing my attention. Clay pots! Pottery is my all time favorite handicraft. But one she showed me definitely had a WoW factor to it. Don't you agree? These colors are amazing. I wanted to own every single one of these pots as she kept on taking one out of her bag each time. But as I mentioned I was on my morning walk on the beach (along with my 7 year old daughter) and all I was carrying was key to my resort room. I was not carrying any money with me. But to my surprise she said I can pick what ever I want and can pay her later in the day or next morning. WoW! how many times do you find a complete stranger in an equally unknown country who trusts a stranger like she did? By now I am completely sold! Not just me also even my daughter, who is a mini me in terms of likes and dislikes. We went over every single piece of her pile going crazy over what to pick and what not.

Art on these clay pots was really something...I can appreciate this even more now that I have been learning and practicing pottery, for an year now. With the limited knowledge I have of Pottery and Glazing myself I can say that it's not easy to glaze a pot and hope that it would turn out the way you expect. Personally I always have to say my prayers before glazing my pots because they can turn out smudged after spending hours trying to make a desired pattern with glazes.

For over 800 years, the Chortega Indians and their descendants, the residents of the town of Guaitil (located 12 km from Santa Cruz), in the Province of Guanacaste, have been making this beautiful works of art out of clay and raw materials extracted from the mountains surrounding this small town. This style of pottery making is commonly known as Guaitil Pottery. The archeological term "Chorotega" is used to refer to a society that emigrated from Mexico to northern Costa Rica after 800 B.C. These indigenous Chorotega people have been absorbed into the general population of Costa Rica but they still have traces of their culture and tradition in the pottery that they make in traditional ways as it has been over 800 years.

These pots are hand thrown using the clay from the Volcanic mountains and decorated with glazes from minerals found in the area then fired in wood burning kilns. Galleries and Potters Studios exist in most of the homes in Guaitil. You cannot help noticing that they don't have any fancy tools. Everything they use is simple and organic!

During our visit we spent few hours with an artisan family in Guaitil, where I had the privilege to see and learn more about their techniques and traditions. We were shown how these pots are made from the scratch.

Each of these wet pots are allowed to dry up enough and then they are smoothed using a stone to remove any imperfections.

After the pots have been dried and smoothed and the potter is satisfied that the exterior is nice and smooth. They are left to dry in the sun for a day or so. Then 7 coats of a white glaze made from zinc oxide is applied. Once the pot has received its seven coats of base glaze, it is left to dry again for another day. The potters in Guatil work with glazes they create themselves with minerals gathered from the nearby mountains. A glaze is a substance which gets fused onto the clay when fired in a kiln to either decorate a pot or to make it stronger or more waterproof. Most of the potters use 3 base colors , Zinc oxide for white, manganese for black and iron for red. Other leaf and flower based colors are used if needed. They grind the minerals with a mortar and pestle and then mix them with water into a consistency like paint and use brush to apply the glaze to the pottery.

Now that they are glazed its time to bake them in the kiln. Usually kiln is shared among couple of families and they wait until they have enough pieces to fill up their kiln before they start baking them.

Coming out of fire are these breathtakingly beautiful pieces! Of course, I couldn't have come back home without bringing some of these beauties along with me. I will share those in my subsequent posts.

You must have guessed by now that the inspiration of art on these pots is coming from rich Flora and Fauna of Coasta Rica's Rainforests.
@Copyright- Pictures in this blog are either taken by me or my husband and are property of RangKatha. You are free to use them but please do drop me a note before you do so.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

About RangKatha ~ Tales of Colors, Crafts and Decor

Rang means "Color" and Katha means "Story"

Whenever I come across things which fascinate artist in me I have to add them to my collections at my home or in my garden in some or the other form and immortalize them.

Very often I do come across things of such beauty which I cannot add to my collection of things but I do add them to collection of my memories and love to share with my family and friends.

Lately I have been thinking of more better ways to capture my thoughts, ideas and creativity in a way so I can share them not only with my family and friends but also with like minded people especially who are equally turned on by colors, designs, art and architecture and immortalize these ideas for ever.

What can be better than blogging away your findings and thoughts!

My caption does says it all.. yes my blog will be collection of tales (short stories), these tales could be..
            1) As simple as capture of morning sun inside my home.
            2) As gorgeous as colors of my garden at its peak.
            3) As inspiring as stories of art forms and artisans who have been preserving age-old traditions and art forms.
            4) As dear as stories about weavers of my all time favorite saree from my wardrobe
            5) As mind blowing as architecture of Temples, Mosques or Churches or as exiting as science behind that architecture
            6) A stress relieving and heart felt satisfaction feature with Do-It-Yourself creation.

So really it is about anything that touches artist in me, anything that makes me happy and alive.. and you must have already guessed it by now.. so its needless to say that list is endless !

Prasanna Tummala
(Author and Illustrator of RangKatha)