Saturday, September 19, 2009

Navaratri Preparations - Part 6 - Ready at last!!!!!!!!

A hectic day and a sleepless night! That's how I spent the whole of yesterday - getting the Bommai Kolu ready. But at last, I am done, and only the finishing touches need to be added, for which Samhith needs to have enough free time, something that's going to happen only this Sunday.

While I get ready to celebrate the festival, take a look at  my Golu.

This is just a preview of my Golu and Navaratri, as I end my series on Navaratri preparation and start a new one on the festival.

While I look out for things to write about Navaratri, check out my last year's posts on the same festival :

Friday, September 18, 2009

Navaratri Preparations - Part 5 - Almost done!

My house is in a mess, stuff strewed all over, cardboard and paper turning up at the most unexpected places and the floor is sticky with the glue that has spilled! Doesn’t that sound like I am living in a pigsty? Well, it does feel like that, but I am still thrilled, for almost all the preparations for the golu are done! The toys have been unearthed from the attic, the slotted angles for the steps have been found, and ALL the houses are ready!! All I now have to do is clean up, set the steps and arrange everything! Of course, there are other things left, such as the rivers, roads, etc., but that’s part of the layout which can only be done when I have made the steps!

Without more ado, let me show you the result of our hard work of the last few days!

Thats the age-old trunk which keeps our toys safe,year after year.....

Those are the houses, cut out from paper,and stuck on cardboard, ready to be assembled. A tip for anyone wishing to try it out: DON'T  use cardboard! use Card or chart paper... its much much easier and the effect is better!

And finally, here are the houses, all ready!!

Come, take a closer look....

That's the railway station - front and back

This is supposed to be a bus stand, but we don't have buses, so we are going to use it as the village railway station!

And here are the different types of houses we made.....

And these are totally Samhith's work, the painting  work, I mean.....

Another house, with some of the shops....

And these are part of the farm buildings...

This is the barn and silo(where grain is stored)  ......

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Navaratri Preparations - Part 4 - Samples for the Golu....

Taking a break from navaratri preparations, I went to Matunga yesterday to buy some essentials for the puja. A trip to Matunga is never complete without a visit to Giri Stores – the one-stop shop for every kind of book and CD we South-Indians would ever need. Every navaratri, Giri stocks up on the ‘Kolu Bommais’ – dolls for keeping in the golu, and I love having a look-around, though there’s no place for more dolls at my place.

It would have been great to take Samhith along, but he was at school, so I brought back photographs instead! Here they are –

An assortment of dolls - from Krishna to the Devis  and the Dashavatar , Tirupati Balaji and Sri Raghavendra.

More of the same... 

Rows and rows of Gods and Goddesses.....

Different types of Krishnas.......

and a Karthikeya too.....

Some beautiful representations of sculptures, recreated in clay.....

The divine musicians - Samhith asked me whether asuras knew how to play musical instruments, and when I asked why, he replied that they looked like asuras!!!

The marriage of Lord Vishnu and Lakshmi

The birth of Krishna....

Gajendra Moksham...

Lord Ayyappa.... and also the Paramacharya....

Rows and rows of Kamadhenu - the divine, wish fulfilling cow.....

Bala Krishna, stealing butter, Radha and Krishna, and Narashimha with Prahalada..... more detailed tableaus of the Dashavatars....

Moving from divinity to the human element - representations of professions - from the brahmin priests to blacksmiths and cobblers....

and vegetable sellers......

... labourers, dancers and sanyasis.....

to tribal dancers...

and village life....

One of the most popular sets of all time - a cricket team!

Mahishasura Mardini - a representation of the Durga Puja in Bengal.....

Here's something for the kids.... the ever popular stories of  "The Hare and the Tortoise" and "the Lion and the Rabbit"...

And finally, it is not only the animate, but also the inanimate which find their place on the golu - cartons of wax  fruits and vegetables!

Hope you all enjoyed these toys as much as I did! Samhith loved them, and I have promised to take him next time!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Navaratri Preparations - Part 3 - 10 most useful links for Paper Modeling

Buildings – just the thought of making lots of buildings makes Samhith all excited! When we started our navaratri preparations, he realized that his blocks wouldn’t be enough to make all the things he wanted in his town – stations, shops, houses, buildings, etc. etc. etc……… As usual, his solution was simple – “Let’s buy more blocks!” he said!!!!! After a lot of argument, I had to put my foot down and explain that his quota of building blocks for the year was done, and I wasn’t buying any more till his next birthday! But then he was so upset that I assured him that I would help him make good houses with paper, and set to work. It would have been easier buying ready-made stuff, but then, it wouldn’t really be the same, would it?

Thus began a whole lot of work for me – beginning with days of searching on the internet (to which I turn for anything and everything these days…), which yielded absolutely stunning results! I found not only some interesting sites which gave me ideas to make my town, but also lots and lots of sites with ready to print paper models of houses – which I only had to print and fix together!

Here are a few…. If you have kids or want to become a kid yourself, go ahead and try some of them out…… they are just too beautiful!

Most of these sites have ready-to-print patterns, colours and patterns all done, which yield the best results, but there are a few which give us the chance of colouring in ourselves, which is what I chose, so as to give Samhith the pleasure of doing his bit of work…….

So, here are my top 10 sites for making paper models -

This is one of the first sites I came across. It reminded me of a paper-cut-out farm I had when I was a kid (a gift from my aunt in the US), and which had been given away when I grew up. Today, I wish I had enough space to keep all these things instead of having to give them away!!!!

This site has some wonderful stuff – right from making your farm, village and town to castles! Just the place for us! Most of my patterns have been taken from this site, and the best part is that they are all blank templates and we can colour them as we wish! And soon, I shall share our work with you!!

3.      Paper Toys
This site has some amazing paper fold-ups – ranging from some of the most beautiful buildings in the world to vehicles and even dolls, and everything is absolutely free!
However, one point about these models is that they are extremely detailed and hence quite complex. Definitely not child’s play!

This one is a treasure-house of paper fold-ups, listing sites with free models of everything from modes of transports to castles, railroads to famous landmarks, villages to skyscrapers. The sites are well classified and it is very convenient!

This site has some wonderful miniature models of houses, shops and churches, ideal for model railroads or a model village like ours.

This is the personal page of Martin Gumhold from Germany…. His site is in both German as well in English, and has some wonderful houses, including a small one which can be coloured in. Samhith loved it, and has made a few of them.

This one has a very pretty little barn, complete with animals and fodder. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to take a good colour printout and hence couldn’t use this one. Maybe next time!

This is another good site for barns and stuff, which even has tips for getting the wall and roof textures absolutely right!!!

9.      Houses - Chinese site
This site has some great houses, all for free, but the whole site is in Chinese… but who cares, the patterns are all I need!

And finally, this one has a whole lot of stuff! This was where we found our station. It is supposed to be a bus stand, but who knows, by the time we are done, it might be a railway station!

These are certainly not the only sites on paper-models, but these were the most useful ones for me. There are lots and lots more sites which have interesting patterns, and all you have to do is - search!!!!!

Well, that brings me to an end to another part of this series. My background is done, my printouts for the houses and other buildings are ready. All we now have to do is colour them in, cut them out and fix them up! Sounds easy? Think again! This has been the easy part. Now we have to sit down and get to work! With just two more days in hand, it’s high time I get to work and get things ready! I shall soon be back with the results... Till then, have a nice day!!!! 

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Navaratri Preparations - Part 2 - The greenery

Samhith enjoys Navaratri not just because he can make all these wonderful things and display them, but also because we leave them as they are for all 10 days! Left to him, once he makes something with his blocks, he would like to leave them just like that for ever- or at least till he gets into the mood to make something new. But with the space we have (or rather, I must say – lack of space), that’s not possible, and evenings invariably end with me pestering him to put his stuff back!

His idea for the navaratri is simple – we use up all his blocks, add a few trees, a river with some water, a mountain, some houses – and it’s done! Easier said than done, but that’s something he isn’t old enough to understand. So the first thing we had to do was arrive at a compromise – the Kolu (steps) takes the prime place at the centre of the area we have reserved (that’s one for me, and he gives up, but not without some grumbling!) and we are going to have his stuff on both sides – one side is going to be the urban one with an airport and city, and the other side is going to have a village and a jungle! This was one for him certainly, as I was planning to simply make it a jungle theme with his animals. But I had to give up, he wants to use his train set as well as his airport set – as he says, “People have to get to the jungle someway – so they fly to the nearest airport and take the train from there to the nearest village…” good logic, so I gave in!

One of the first things we had to look out for, once our plan was ready, were – trees – lots of them! After all, jungles need plenty of trees! Besides, the city should have a green cover too! So, while Samhith was at school, I went tree hunting. The first choice was, of course, to grow some plants and use them as trees, but that involves regular watering, and with a restless child in the house who picks up plants to show his friends, its not really feasible at the moment, so this time, we started looking around for plastic trees. My first choice was Crawford Market, where, after a lot of searching we finally found some Christmas trees –

Then the family chipped in, and my aunt finally got a variety of plastic plants and flowers, and even one on a grid which is just great for the jungle. What a discovery! Now I can use these every year! No more tree hunting for me!!!!

We have settled on green velvet paper for the grass and blue gelatin (or cellophane) paper for the river, but I still have to go out and buy all of them. Samhith has done his bit by helping me make a list of all the things I need to buy – since he can’t accompany me to the shop!

So that brings the preparations for the background to a close. All we have to do is make the actual houses and buildings needed to make the village and city. While the stuff Samhith has to make with his blocks are last on the list, to be made on Friday evening after he returns from school, we are in the process of making paper houses which you can look forward to seeing in the next post.

The next couple of days are sure to be busy ones for me, but I shall be back soon with Samhith’s creations for all of you!


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Navaratri Preparations - Part 1

We Indians celebrate some festival or the other every month…… and in the peak festival season, more than one in a month. Apart from the big ones, we also have a lot of smaller ones, all of which have their own importance. Every puja in the house is accompanied by the special festive spread, the decorations and of course, the decking up in nine yards (for me) and festive wear (for Samhith)!

Imagine then our plight, when all festivals were cancelled post a death in the family, for a year! To make matters worse, another death postponed festivities for another year. At last, the period of mourning is over, and we can get back to the business of celebration!

No one is more thrilled than Samhith, especially since the first festival we shall be celebrating is Navaratri – the nine days and nights dedicated to the Devi. This festival holds a special attraction for him, since we keep the traditional “Bommai Kolu” – steps with earthen dolls kept on them.

Traditionally, the Kolu is comprised of two parts – the first being the steps – usually 3, 5, 7, 9 or 11, depending on the space and doll availability. This usually depends on the family, and each keeps a certain number of steps every year. While it is considered agreeable to increase the number of steps, the number of steps is usually not reduced.

Here are is a photo of the golu at the Fine Arts Society, Chembur, last year, a perfect example of what a golu should be.

The toys kept on the steps too have their significance – they symbolize the creation of life, which is attributed to the goddess, and comprise samples of her creations – from humans and animals at the bottom level to characters from mythology and demigods at higher levels to gods and goddesses at the highest levels.

The second part of the golu is where scenes from everyday life are recreated. This is the part where children usually contribute their bit, and is certainly the most interesting part of the golu, especially as it changes every year!

This was the decoration at Fine Arts - a representation of Mount Kailas

This is what Samhith is looking forward to, and has great plans of making a city, complete with airport and railway station, and of course, his favourite animals in a forest……. Grand plans, wouldn’t you say, considering that he has his first brush with exams coinciding with the festival? Well, nevertheless, we are going full steam ahead with our preparations, keeping our fingers crossed, hoping that nothing happens to disrupt our plans.

There is exactly a week left for navaratri, and I am planning to write a series of posts describing our preparations, especially as it involved a lot of web-searching on my part, with interesting results which I would like to share with all of you.

The credit for this series of posts goes to Srivats, who has not just given me some great inputs and ideas, but has also been egging me on to write these posts! So, Srivats, this series is for you!

While I prepare my first post on the actual preparations, you can take a look at our last golu – which was a couple of years back.

And here is Samhith’s contribution – all made with his toys! There is a river, lots and lots of animals (at last count they exceeded 200!) and even the sea….. Of course, the sea is contained within a small plastic tray, but it is absolutely crammed full of sea creatures – I had suggested laying them out on blue paper, but he vehemently opposed it! These animals were supposed to be in the water, not on top of it, he said!

That was when he was a couple of years younger, so it was easy to convince him that the mountain and river in the background looked real enough. This year, though, is another story altogether! So, look out for the next few posts......