Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Festival of Flowers - Batukamma

Flowers are integral part of Indian festivals. Feel of festivity starts with flowers. But, what can be said about festival of flowers..... Today's post is about one such Festival of Flowers, one that is very dear to my heart!

Bathukamma -
is a colorful and vibrant festival celebrated in the state of Telangana, India. Celebrated by women, with flowers that grow exclusively in this region during this time of the year. Festival that represents cultural sprint of Telangana, Bathukamma - is a beautiful flower stack, arranged with different unique seasonal flowers most of them with medicinal values, in seven concentric layers in the shape of temple gopuram. In Telugu( Native language of Telangana ), ‘Bathukamma' means ‘Mother Goddess, come alive’ and Goddess MahaGauri is worshipped in the form of Bathukamma .

Navratri, which is celebration of Goddess Durga in different forms. Bathukamma is one such celebration involving flowers. It starts on the day of Mahalaya Amavasya and the 8-day festivities ends on "Saddula Bathukamma" or popularly known as Durgashtami which is two days before Dussehra. The women folk normally get back to their parent's home from their in-laws to celebrate this colorful festival of flowers. Small ‘Batukammas’ are made and played around them every evening and immersed in a nearby water pond. On the last day, the men folk of the house go into the wild and gather flowers like gunuka and tangedi(native flowers of these regions). They bring home bagfuls of these flowers and the entire household sits down to make the big ‘Batukamma’. These flowers are carefully arranged row after row in a brass plate (called taambalam) in circular rows and in alternate colors and at the top sits is Maa Gowri made with Turmaric. As evening approaches the women folk of the household dress colorfully with the best of their attire and adorn ornaments and place the Batukamma in their courtyard. The women of neighborhood also gather in a large circle around it. They start singing songs by circling it repeatedly, building a beautiful human circle of unity, love and sisterhood.

Writing this post is bringing back my memories of how I have celebrated this festival growing up with my mom, sister and cousins. While I remember those days .. here are some glimpses of how I have celebrated it this year with my little girl and ladies of our community!!

Each of the layers of these flower pyramid is made with different colors and types of flowers and these colors and types of flowers have there own significance.

(L to R) Flowers used for making bathukamma, tangedu (cassia), gunugu (celosia), velvet flower, banthi (marigold), chamanthi (chrysanthemum), lotus and pumpkin flower (images collage created from google images)

Though I can't find these specific flowers where I live
So here is how we improvised our Bathukamma with the flower we find here in USA.

This symbolizes girls and their affair with flowers

Flowers are stacked in layers and center is filled with leaves to keep Batukamma stand stable.

We layered ours with the flowers of our choice. Also added Pine cone flowers which are native to place we live.

Adorn in our best attire we went to community event where all ladies of community gathered together for celebrations..

Ladies and girls sing and dance around Batukammas forming human circles..

After playing in circles around the “Batukammalu”, before the onset of dusk, the women folk carry them on their heads and move as a procession towards a bigger water body near the village or town. The procession is extremely colorful with the decorations of women and the “Batukammalu”. Songs of folklore are sung in chorus throughout the procession and the streets resonate with them. Finally, when they reach the water pond the “Batukammalu” are slowly immersed into water.Then they share the sweets amongst the family members and neighborhood folks.

The flowers used in Batukamma have a great quality of purifying water and such flowers when immersed in abundance into the pond have the effect of cleansing the water and making the environment much better. In times where the fresh water ponds are gradually diminishing away it is indeed a pride of Telangana that its womenfolk inherently know how to make them better with their celebrations ... celebrations to preserve beauty of nature - Mother Earth!

Images Source: All Images(which are not credited) are taken by me or my family and are from my home or during our celebrations, they are property of Rangkatha. Please, do not use them.


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Arrival of my stone Ganesha and Nandi ~~

Arrival of Ganesha & Nandi

Any Handicrafts .. they rob my heart...

But nothing beats "Stone Sculptures", and that too amazing granite stone sculptures.

Thinking of "Stone Sculptures", first thing that comes to my mind is the amazing granite stone sculptures of South Indian Temples. That amazing sculpture making architecture cannot be described in words. Especially one from Pallava style sculpture making.The sculptors who have been carrying this rich culture and tradition of carving, uses Vaastu Shastra as well as mathematical precision for the execution of such exquisite and beautiful sculptures.

This summer, I was able to exploring and admire this style of sculpture making even further. I visited many temples depicting Pallava style of architecture, which I plan to share in my subsequent posts.

But today's story is about my unexpected encounter with Pallava Style Stone Sculptures. During our road trip to our native villages (My Grandparents home town), in Telangana-India, I found sculptors practicing Pallava style sculpture making, in their street side workshops. I have not seen this art technique being practiced in this part of India. Next thing I know is that I had stopped to explore more.

Here is their workshop cum store

Idols were in various sizes and shapes, mostly made for temples, but some were for homes & gardens as well. Each one of these were unique and I loved them all.
But there was this Ganesha statue tucked in the corner. I knew in my heart that this was definitely the one I wanted to take home.

I also knew for sure that this was not going to be a trivial task to bring him along to USA, from all the way where he stood. I probably would have to pay many times more than the price of statue itself, and ofcourse I have to first convince my family that I am not crazy to think what I am thinking. Even though i was OK with first two, question still remains is how am I going to transport 100+ kgs about 3 feet Idol from the spot where it stands, specifically as I was on a road trip at that time for different purpose and was not equipped to carry heavy.

Well... As I had my heart set on this, I decide to buy and then let Ganesha decide how he wants to travel back home with me:)

Growing up in India you know that you cannot and don't buy anything on street without bargaining. But looking at the beauty of this sculpture, hard work that went into making it and living conditions of these very much talented sculptors, I didn't have heart to bargain.

I wanted to buy this one not just because of its beauty but to do little I can, to support these artisans.

Any statue that leaves their shop get nice traditional farewell. So did my Ganesha .
Now he's here along with Nandi, at my home almost 9000 miles away from the place I first saw him. There went in lots of panning and efforts from my parents in India, in shipping this statue to me and this statue of Ganesha will remain my favorite handicraft collection of all the handicrafts I have collected so far or one I am going to get in future." Ganesha and Nandi, arrived just in time for Ganesha Chaturthi! Now they sit in my garden blessing my home!

Images Source: All Images are taken by me or my kids and are from my home and during our travel, they are property of Rangkatha. Don't User them without prior permission.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Heavenly Hydrangeas ~ Limelight it is...

Its Limelite time...

You constantly have heard plenty from me over the past year about my gardens and saw me sharing many garden posts ... and all are close to my heart! All I can say is that I am crazy about my garden. After moving, I have terribly missed my previous garden this summer. It's not possible to get my thoughts out of my first love, not easy to let go of my matured garden which took years to grow...

But then it did gave me a chance to do it all over again.... which I am definitely exited about. As we roll into mid summers in my part of the world I would like to bring to you a glimpse of my new garden with Limelite Hydrangea...

Hydrangea - My newly acquired love . I have never known or seen Hydrangeas growing up in India. But since the first time I saw them in United States, they have been on my top 5 list. Not only as appealing garden plants but also as cut flowers.
It's never been easy to grow them. I realized that there are so many varieties of hydrangea's each of these have different habitats. Some like sun , some hate it, some like it moist and others like it dry. Some need alkaline soil and some acidic. Some bloom on old twigs and some on new. Some are repeat bloomers and some bloom once a year.. PHEW... How am I even going to track all this and cultivate them ..
In my attempt to bring this love into my garden I have tried for years to cultivate Hydrangeas but was never really successful.. I would adore them in others gardens but was never successful growing in mine.

With new garden to raise I was so sure that I wanted at least one tree Hydrangea and it has to be white blooms. You know my love for green and white combo! Searched for it in all of our local nurseries and I found one almost at the end of fall last year. This was with its fall look about to shed all its leaves and was the only tree left in almost all of our local nurseries I searched. They were not selling it for less either. Nursery owner said, Tree Hydrangeas are not easy to find so there was no way he would throw in discount. Now do I get it or not... With my failing track record of raising Hydrangea I was wondering if I should even dare to buy this tree which looks half dead... well after mulling over it I decided to go with it and I am so happy I did.
I left it in the planter for whole of the winter as I was not able to decide on the location. Planted early spring this year, which was not the best decision considering harsh summer we had this year.

Now its mid Summer.. and how beautiful my Limelite Tree Hydrangea stands in my front yard with full of blooms makes me so proud and happy!
What do you all think??

Images Source: All Images are taken by me and are from my home, they are property of Rangkatha. Don't User them without prior permission.