One Festival, Many Interpretations

Prominent Bangaloreans tell City Express what Diwali means to them

Published: 16th October 2014 06:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th October 2014 06:07 AM   |  A+A-


BANGALORE: Reviving lost stories

For award-winning designer Abhijit Bansod,

Diwali is a time to rethink spaces; bring in light, colour and texture to the walls and niches; and to dig deep to find a connection with tradition. He says, “After my daughter Anahira arrived, my wife Amrita and I have become even more conscious of lost stories from our culture. We now know the importance of reviving them or reinterpreting them for her.” Bansod, who runs Studio ABD and interprets Diwali through innovative products like a jigsaw diya set, a deepa stambha and a tree of light, often plays design games at home too.  He smiles,“Sometimes, we create a structural rangoli where design acquires a third dimension. And we put it on the wall as a jewellery installation or suspend flower patterns in space with many threads. We designate many areas for light installations like a pyramid with 32 lamps and more.” He usually gifts his products to friends and laughs sheepishly when asked if anyone ever gives him a gift that pleases him. He responds, “A wall-mounted Buddha was the last thoughtful gift we got.” Though he has vivid memories of oil baths and crackers being burst, today to him, Diwali is more about enjoying little family rituals.

conquer the evil that lies within you

As a humanist who follows no religion, artist C F John interprets Diwali in an unusual way. He says, “I do light diyas at home and sometimes on the terrace parapet, but for me, Diwali is an opportunity to rethink the idea of good and evil. It is easy for all of us to externalise evil, to accuse and condemn others, when the truth is that we need to address the darkness that lies within us all. We wait for the world to be better before we change for the better, but darkness can change into light only when we start with ourselves. And a festival is a perfect time to engage with the gift of light, breeze, vegetation and everything that we have taken for granted. "

begin something new while learning from your past

Artist Gurudas Shenoy’s happiest Diwali memories recall the time when he along with a bunch of children decorated cows, feasted on home cooked goodies and was driven around in a decorated vehicle all around Udupi by his grandfather. Things have not changed much because the thread of tradition runs through everything he does, even today. The flower decorations, layers of diyas and a special pooja are an integral part of the day, but the most significant thing for him is the cleaning that takes place in his studio and workshop. “Every tool, canvas, scrap and can in my work space is cleaned and worshipped. Then the place is decorated and I paint a bit too, because it is auspicious. I love kandeels (paper lanterns) that you find in Basavanagudi, and when the house is lit up and the fragrance of sweets intermingles with the wafts of agarbattis and flowers, it seems like we have begun something new and also connected with the past.”  

connect with your inner light Product designer Atul Johri celebrates

Diwali without any family rituals, and he says, “My dog and the people on my Channapatna farm are my family. For me, Diwali means adding an extra dimension of light to every space. As a designer, I have created many products with a Diwali theme, including a set of chimney candles that I made recently. But personally, I just find this festival to be all about taking a moment to connect with the light within and without."

He continues, "Even if you are far away from home and are feeling alone, just lighting a few diyas on Diwali makes an unfamiliar space your own. The light creates a memory and a connection of joy and peace with a space.  My mother used to say that no corner in the house should be left unlit. Even the bathroom should be lit up and then even the dark spirits come only to bless you.”

good food and being with loved ones

For actress Kriti Kharbanda, Diwali is all about savouring family togetherness. She says, “My most special Diwali gift is the food my mom cooks on that day! I believe food brings people together more than anything else. I try not to gift people idols of gods as I don’t know what their beliefs are. So instead I prefer gifting silver artifacts which have an auspicious aura. And at the end of the day, it’s an investment!”

Diwali does not have to be a loud festival

Usha Rajagopalan, chairperson for the Puttenhalli Neighborhood Lake Improvement Trust, loves keeping her Diwali celebrations on subtle. “When my son turned 10, he insisted that we don’t burst crackers and we haven’t since,” says Usha, who was born and raised in Thiruvananthapuram. She invites her friends and relatives home and serves them homemade sweets . “They never turn out that great but I try anyway,” she laughs.

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