Diwali Lantern

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Diwali Lantern – “Aakash Kandeel’’
Anup Takalkar

IntroductionIndia, along with its varied cultures and traditions, is known as land of festivity. Celebration for these festivals centres on the rituals of prayer, seeking blessings, exchanging goodwill, decorating houses, adorning new cloths, music and dance. Diwali (dip, meaning lights + aawali, meaning row) is the festival of “row of lights”, celebration of which finds its root in Hindu religion. It is believed that, Lord Rama was welcomed back by the subject of Ayodhya with lightning rows of lamps, diyas, after fourteen years of exile as he conquered "goodwill over evil", "the truth over falsity". The lighted diyas on Diwali also remind us of the teaching of the Hindu Upanishads which says Thamaso Maa Jyothir Gamaya – which means "Lead me from darkness to light". So light became the medium of expressing the truth, the metaphor for knowledge.Aakash KandeelDiwali is a favourably anticipated time of the year marked by various decorations adorning homes and streets. It is an important ritual to light countless flickering traditionally made earthen oil lamps with cotton wick and to keep them outside every doorstep all over the country. Along with the fireworks, diyas and the strings of colourful LED lights forms an illumination making it a night of enchantment. One of the most popular decorations which stand out to dispel darkness is paper lantern, Kandeel. It is a desi lantern with a framework of wooden or bamboo sticks enclosed in coloured papers. Decorated with the paper tails at its bottom, it blows in the evening breeze. In the festival, market is flooded with such traditional lanterns which are hung in front of homes during Diwali for around a month or so. Diyas and Aakash Kandeels are the significant part of this festival which are symbolic of the spiritual light dispelling evil and the darkness of ignorance. This Diwali lantern has been known by many names in addition to Aakash Kandeel: Goodu Deepa, Nakshatra Gudu and Aakash Deep. Hindus in earlier days set this lantern of the sky afloat high, a gesture to invite the spirits of their ancestors moving around to come back home to be with them during the festival, so is named Aakash Kandeel. It was the time when there was no electricity before few decade, the earthen lamps were the source that kept illuminating the lanterns, now a days which are replaced by electric bulbs.ConstructionPaperIndian culture talks about environment friendly products and reusability of goods. Kandeels are made out of coloured tissue paper, matte or glossy paper, handmade paper, cardboard, bamboo sticks, ice-cream sticks, clothes and even the recycled glass. It is traditionally built in a crystal shape with long tails at the bottom.  Star and diamond shapes are also equally popular. In recent times, creativity has given way to complex shapes such globes and airplanes.The basic frame work of the body is constructed by joining the sticks and tying them together with a string. It is then covered by combination of different coloured crafts paper using glue. Paper cutting technique is used to make various designs, silhouette, styles, motifs in the paper used to make lanterns. This technique takes the lantern making to another level, the incredible illumination and the play of light makes it more appealing and amazing. Use of paper with the cut-outs or punctures creates illusion by blocking some of the light behind it. The ideal example is Star shape lantern that is popular in villages’. Another type uses ice-cream sticks with the additional ornamentation of beads, colourful laces, plastic bells wrapped in gold paper and balls having hexagonal, pentagonal or octagonal shapes. People are getting more environment conscious, thereby in addition to non eco-friendly materials such as plastic, gelatine paper and thermocole; conventional paper is also replaced by handmade paper as it is made of eco-friendly material such as cotton, silk, and agro waste...
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