Tyohaar Ki Shuruaat
Summer, in most parts of India is like a long drawn dopehri; that colloquial summer afternoon best spent resting on moon white sheets, safe from the scorching heat. This dopehri stretches and coils like a giant snake from April to June in northern India. The monsoon begins it’s slow, drunken ramble from the south of the country around early June. By July, this truant has stumbled all over the country, leaving everyone intoxicated with the wine of rain. As August meets September, the land’s cracked skin heals. Well fed on the bounty of rain, we begin to prepare our homes and hearts for the cooler months when the earth and sky meet in an evening of celebration, the season of festivals.
There was a time when our lives allowed us to experience slowness in preparation. In the weeks before the festivals began with Teej and Onam towards the end of the monsoon, followed closely by Raksha Bandhan and Janmashtmi, families would begin preparing everything by hand. Over songs and gatherings, fabrics would be cut and sewn into garments. Ingredients for pedas and laddoos kneaded and malai whipped till butter separated from buttermilk for maakhan mishri. From clothes to sweets and decorations for homes, this slow pace of living made extraordinary art possible in ordinary homes. A lot of that has disappeared over time. Perhaps it has also freed us, especially women, from toiling endlessly.
One of the few things that still remind us of the labor and reverence that slowness requires is hand woven fabric. From the Tangalia and Kharad of Bhuj to the Tanchoi and Kinkhwab of Varanasi, Indian hand woven fabric is as varied and steeped in tradition as the festivals of India. No celebration in Indian homes from the birth of Krishna in Janmashtmi to the arrival of Durga in Pujo is complete without deities being dressed in fabric created by the weavers of India.
With deft hands and eyes, body and mind united as if in prayer, the weaver moves in a timeless dance that brings threads alive. Perhaps this festival season we can bring the weaver’s prayer home, making it our own-a fitting welcome to the Gods who return to us as the celebrations begin.
Authored By: Reema Ahmad