November 1, 2010

Art Feature : Diwali Decor with Alpono Designs

Alpana or Alpono designs are drawn during festivals and Hindu rituals in Bengal, Orissa and other parts of Eastern India. It's also drawn during Kojari Lakshmi Puja to welcome Goddess Lakshmi. The designs drawn during Lakshmi Puja display the feet of Goddess Lakshmi.

The Medium
A level surface is required for Alpona such as floors and steps inside the house or in the atrium, rarely to walls and ceilings. For weddings, Alpona decorates wooden seats, rattan trays and other utensils used in the rituals; for religious ceremonies it is used to decorate the special seat of the idol, the columns in the room of worship and special earthenware used in the ceremonies. Alpona is painted in most applications, unlike Rangoli, where designs formed by piling and spreading multicolored powders are more prevalent. Alpona is usually white, the medium, known as pituli, being derived from the paste obtained by finely grinding a special type of white rice softened by soaking in cold water. The base may be colored sometimes with organic dyes, such as turmeric for yellow, spinach for green or charcoal for black, but such use is rare in Alpona.

The Purpose
Alpona is a required element of religious occasions or social occasions of joy or festivity, such as weddings, Hindu communions, harvest celebrations and pujas. Practiced primarily by womenfolk using techniques based on local customs, Alpona patterns are meant to adorn the venue of celebration. A form of worship based upon the long standing belief that the artist would express her deepest desires to the one who may fulfill these desires, an Alpona design placed at the seat of worship ensured her desires would come true. To the uneducated, nearly illiterate women who used to decorate the platforms of worship, this unspoken principle was a strong motivator for preserving the art form for almost 4000 years throughout history.

Preserve Traditions... Paint with rice paste this Diwali!!

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