In spite of a message from mom and a note written on my board, I missed Karthigai Deepam. For the ones who are wondering what this is about; the legend behind this festival is that  Brahma and Vishnu entered into an argument with each other, as to who was the powerful of the two. Lord Siva arose as a huge column of fire, of immeasurable height and humbled Brahma and Vishnu, for they failed to scale Him. Since then a huge cauldron, used as a lamp, is lit atop the Hill of Thiruvannamalai, commemorating the event.

The birth of Lord Murugan also holds special significance to the celebration of Karthigai Deepam festival, the festival of lamps. It was on this day that Lord Muruga who first incarnated as six infants, (out from six sparks from the third eye of Lord Siva, in Saravana Poigai (a holy tank) ), was conjoined into one, with the embrace of Goddess Parvati. (Source:living.oneindia.in)

For a Chennai girl that I am, this is the festival of lights. Every year, Karthigai Deepam heralds the onset of winter- the cool breeze that blows on your face as you cycle to school, the Tamizh month of ‘Margazhi‘ when the streets are decorated with beautiful kolams (rangolis) and of course, it means Christmas is not far away! :) Every year, mom and I would light up the entire balcony with little lamps that I would re-fuel till I was tired to do so.

Since I missed the festival this year, I am making amends with a few photos from the lamp makers of Ariyakudi in Chettinadu. Chettinadu lamps are not hollow on the inside like most metal casting techniques. The core is also filled with metal and is supposed to be very sturdy. Little wonder that the lamps form an integral part of dowry in Tamil Nadu. The white metal lamp is a recent addition and is slowly replacing the silver(owing to the price) lamps in the dowry.

The lamp collection is not limited to the regular tall  ‘Villakku’. New additions like the Paavai Villakku, where a lady (Paavai) holds the lamp and the Aanai Villakku where the lamp is mounted on an elephant (Aanai).

Molten metal is poured into the hollow in the mould. The final touches are given by filing. Traditional designs are made of clean, straight lines and are usually devoid of ornamentation.

The designs don’t stop with the ‘Villakku’. Bells of various sizes that are used in Pooja room doors of both homes and temples and the big bell that hangs at the entrance of the temple are also made here.

Swing chains are very popular here. Various figures are added in to the chain which is used to hold a wooden plank. Birds like parrots and peacocks are commonly used motifs. As the motifs are made of solid metal, a set of 4 chains for a swing would cost roughly around Rs.25-30k!

Hopefully the Karthigai Deepam in 2012 will be celebrated with one of these lamps. A definite must have, if you are a collector.

 

 

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