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Amidst the Dying Art of Wood Carving, Meet the Wood Carver who keeps it alive in India

P. Sengottuvel owns a degree in chemistry but is still practicing this art because he doesn’t want to see this art dying

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Wooden carvings. Image source: www.iisd.ca
  • Woodcarving is influenced by a number of local Indian religions 
  • Woodcarvings are usually found in a few homes in Kerala and temples 
  • P. Sengottuvel from Tamil Nadu has been practicing woodcarving since 30 years 

A lost art

India is a land of diverse culture and traditions. It is known for its rich heritage which comprises of art, literature, scriptures, sculptures and monuments. Woodcarving is one such art is being practiced since years.  Woodcarving is influenced by a number of local Indian religions. It is surprising that every religion of India has its own style of wood art! The wood from available trees is used as raw material to design wood carved sculptures, furniture and statues.

Woodcarving is practiced in India since time immemorial. Many wood carved temples still exist in India. Some of these temples are located in Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh. The art is reviving with the sandalwood art of Karnataka and teak wood in Kerala. However, this art is dying in modern India. Modern furniture is made from different materials which hardly leave any scope for Indian artisans involved in woodcarving to continue their work.

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The Revival 

But there is one such artisan who has still kept his art alive. P. Sengottuvel has inherited this art from his forefathers. Though he owns a degree in chemistry, he is still practicing this art because he doesn’t want to see this art dying. He lives in a village called Thammampatti, 60km from the city of Salem, Tamil Nadu, said the star2.com report.

P. Sengottuvel has been carving wood since 30 years Image: www.star2.com
P. Sengottuvel has been carving wood since 30 years
Image: www.star2.com

According to Star2.com, initially, he learnt to make wooden jewelry and then moved on to bigger things. His grandfather also makes chariots for temples and was awarded the Living Treasure Award by the government of Tamil Nadu. He also exhibited his work at the Artistic Treasures Exhibition at the Temple of Fine Arts in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore. Most of his carvings comprise of Lord Ganesha. His works are very detailed which takes a lot of hard work.

He also takes up orders and the stock is easily sold. He works full day only taking breaks for meals. He wishes his children to follow his legacy just as his father taught him this art when he was a little boy.

Tracings of the Art

The Hidimba Devi Temple also known as the Hadimba Temple in Manali, Kullu, Himachal Pradesh Image: Wikimedia Commons
The Hidimba Devi Temple also known as the Hadimba Temple in Manali, Kullu, Himachal Pradesh
Image: Wikimedia Commons

The traces of ancient wooden carvings are found in temples of Himachal Pradesh. One such temple is Sankat Mochan Temple in Shimla. This wooden temple also has an Ayurvedic clinic. The Hidimba Devi Temple in Manali is popular for its 24m tall wooden tower and is built around a cave in a thick forest.

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Mathi Temple at Chitkul, India Image: www.tourmyindia.com
Mathi Temple at Chitkul, India
Image: www.tourmyindia.com

The Mathi Temple in Chitkul is 500 years old and is made of wood. Maa Shavari Temple is a prominent temple in Manali. Maa Shavari is known to be a manifestation of Goddess Durga.

Traditional Kerala House! Kerala, South India. Image: Pinterest
Traditional Kerala House, Kerala in South India. Image source: Pinterest

Woodcarvings in homes can also be found in some homes in Kerala. In Uttar Pradesh, most of the wood carvings are influenced from the Mughals. Kerala and Karnataka also posses many beautiful wooden deities.

 

-prepared by Shubhi Mangla, an intern at Newsgram. Twitter @shubhi_mangla

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Sri Bhārata Māta Ashtottaram: 108 Sanskrit Mantras

Here are some mantras with detailed explanations for you to stay calm and maintain peace

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hare-krishna-mantras
Indians we are very blessed to receive the spiritual wisdom of the ancient seers (rishis) of India. Pixabay

By Dr. Devakinanda Pasupuleti

In today’s environment where the views of western academics, a bias compounded by one-sided western news reports on India by the so called mainstream media and post-colonial Indologists with new ways of misrepresenting Sanskrit texts and Sanatana Dharma in what they pass on to students. It is utmost important and urgent task laid up on us to bring clarity to our youth about true Indian culture, traditions, and qualities that are unique only to India.

As Indians, we are very blessed to receive the spiritual wisdom of the ancient seers (rishis) of India that shaped our values, customs, traditions and culture for millennia. With that nostalgia in my mind, as a tribute to our motherland and with great enthusiasm I have written the qualities unique only to India as an ashtottarm (108 names). In today’s “modern” world, where the positive values are too often replaced with materialism, intolerance, violence, extremism, and terrorism; these mantras will help you stay calm and centered in face of adversity, and in the “little” moments. We can all find beauty, peace, strength everywhere we look—if we remember to look for it.

mantras
The following mantra will help you stay calm and centered in face of adversity, and in the “little” moments.

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I have explained each mantra in detail and why Bharatamata deserves to be worshipped with that each mantra. I will publish one mantra at a time as a series over a period of time. If you, your family and children find these mantras very enlightening, my goal and aspiration will be accomplished.

Ashtottaram 1

1) OṀ BHĀRATABHŨMYAI NAMAH

ॐ भारतभूम्यै नमः

OM (AUM)-BHAA-RA-TA-BHOO-MYAI– NA-MA-HA

 (OṀ:  Praṇavanādam, name of God; Bhārata: Historical name of our country; Bhūmi: Land, country, Namah: Salutations)

 “Bharatah” in the Vedas,“Bhārata” in the Bhagavad Gīta- this familiar word has been around since ancient Vedic times. Our understanding is that the name – Bharata varṣha, came into usage because of the famous ruler Bharata. However, if we look into our history, we realize that there are different legends as to how the country got the name Bharata.

In the Vedas, the word Bharat means “ritual fire”. The phrase Bharat varamanatvāt bharatah means the Bearer and sustainer of fire and who gives pleasure. The eternal dharma in the creation is this fire -“Agni”.

“Bha”-means light, knowledge; and effulgence while, Rata-means curiosity, relish; and fond of. So Bharata means one who is fond of light and knowledge. That’s why, from ancient times, we offer prayers to the Sun God every morning- before dawn.

Jaḍa Bharata, a jnāni (the knower of the Absolute-the ‘Brahman’) and avadhūta (who was beyond worldly concerns) was the son of Rājaṛshi-VṛishabhaYogīswara. He ruled our land and according to the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, the country may have been named “Bharata Vaṛsha” and “Bharata Khanḍa” in his honour.

bhagavad gita mantras
The above picture shows Bhagavad Gīta in which Bharata is mentioned as “Bhārata”. Pixabay

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It is widely believed that our land was called “Bharata” after Lord Shri Rāmachandra’s youngest brother, who ruled it for 14 years.

Last, but not the least is the story of Ḋushyanta and Śhakunṫala in the Mahābhārata, written by Veḋa Vyāsa. Their son Bharata, (also called Sarvaḋamana, and Ḋouhitra) ruled our country and brought prosperity and peace to the land.

Whatever may be the reasons, the country we proudly call ours is -“Bhārata Bhūmi”.

[ Disclaimer: The pictures used in the article are supplied by the author, NewsGram has no intention of infringing copyrights. ]

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How COVID-19 is Reshaping Education in India?

Learning has shifted to virtual mode during the pandemic

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e-learning Education
Education during the times of the pandemic is being delivered virtually. Pixabay

If there is one thing we have learned from the Coronavirus outbreak is that the future is unpredictable. In order to survive and thrive in the ever-changing world, we need to become more adaptive and innovative in every aspect of life. The wake of COVID-19 has coerced businesses, governments, education institutions and students, and almost every collective body to reinvent the ways they do things.

Schools and colleges were the first institutions that were locked down as soon as COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in India. This had an adverse effect on education in India. Amongst the additional concerns of learning of students, the virtual mode of delivering education has come to aid. Many online learning and training platforms in India have come forward with discounted or free access to their trainings. This is so that the school and college students could still continue learning courses of their syllabus as well as other necessary skills while staying at their homes.

E-learning has become a preferred way of learning among Indian students over the past couple of years. Though, it is still an optional way of learning for the Indian learning population. However, the sudden and unfortunate COVID-19 outbreak has turned it into a necessary mode of learning. It is allowing students to keep up their learning whether it is for school exams, semester finals, or competitive exams for college admissions, and jobs. E-learning is letting them study at their own pace and thus making productive use of their time at home.

learning and education
E-learning has become a preferred way of learning and education among Indian students during the pandemic. Pixabay

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Many schools and universities across India are also turning to online modes to deliver classes and lectures to their students. With support from technology, parents, faculty, and students, these institutions are making sure that the education is not hampered. They are continuing the classes online by live broadcasting or recorded videos, sharing homework and assignments over emails, and even helping students with their doubts through video mode. This mode of teaching and learning is not only limited to basic subjects but classes like physical education, yoga, dance, photography, and many more are also being taught through the same.

To fight this pandemic, a lot of universities across the world like Stanford University are also contemplating and planning to conduct ‘take-home examinations’ (Source), that is, arranging the examinations such that the students could take them from their homes only. This hasn’t been implemented in India yet; however, with the rising number of cases across India, the institutions may need to plan a similar mode of teaching and evaluating the students.

And, not just examinations, with the uncertainty around how long this situation may persist, students especially college going students may even miss out on doing industrial trainings, finding internships, and placement opportunities. To tackle the same, universities could make students aware or also arrange online internships and job fairs wherein the students could apply for the opportunities online. The corporate industry is equally affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and is switching to offline mode of hiring at the moment and are open to work-from-home options until the situation persists.

studying education
Online Examinations or ‘take-home examinations’ are being conducted for students. Pixabay

The Indian education system has shifted to the online mode of education and all the stakeholders including educational institutions, teachers, students, and parents are welcoming it with open arms. Although this is so as to continue the teaching and learning until the pandemic situation lasts, the stakeholders are also learning and exploring new and efficient ways to continue the process of learning. This makes it highly probable that this mode of education would continue and there will be new such innovations in teaching methods even after the situation has improved.

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Someone has rightly said, “Problems are nothing but wake-up calls for creativity”. This unfortunate outbreak has propelled our education system to reinvent the way education is delivered and received. These difficult times are teaching us to be resilient in the face of hardships. Education in India is being reshaped out of necessity. We could either succumb to the changes or choose to see this as an opportunity to learn as well as teach the students various new skills like agility, adaptability, creativity, problem-solving, forward-thinking, flexibility in learning and performing various other tasks.

About the author: Sarvesh Agrawal is the founder and CEO of Internshala, an internship and training platform (internshala.com)

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Showing Support to The Chanderi weavers Amid Lockdown

In tough times, it is difficult for weavers to sell their products, showcasing their work online can be immensely helpful

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Chanderi weavers
Lending support to Chanderi weavers in these times becomes immensely important. IANS

In tough times, it is difficult for weavers to sell their products and sustain their craft during these difficult times. Showcasing their work online can be immensely helpful. One needs understand that the lockdown has had a severe impact on artisans as it has severely affected their sales and production.

“With artisans and weavers having been hit badly because of the lockdown, Weaverstory a specialised online marketplace, has decided to give reasonable prices, so that customers can buy different products from across India and abroad too. This is helping the weavers sell their products to sustain during these difficult times. Every artisan or weaver is given a separate space to exhibit their products and this is the first time they are trying something like this,” said Nishant Malhotra co-founder of Weaverstory.

WeaverStory launched an “Authentic Chanderi Collection” which helps artisans to become self-reliant. Chanderi, from central India is one of the best-known handloom clusters, particularly famous for its sarees, made with a mix of silk and cotton.

weavers
India is one of the best-known handloom clusters, particularly famous for its sarees, made with a mix of silk and cotton. Pixabay

“Most of them sustain themselves only by selling their products and what is really important is to sell their products on time. Hence, this is the only way to sell whatever they have produced in the past two months. We ensure that the money goes to the artisan’s account within three working days and provide financial support to them during the lockdown,” Malhotra added.

The chanderi saree is a handwoven variety from the traditional weavers of Madhya Pradesh. Woven predominantly in cotton and silk yarn, the material has a subtle sheer surface. The assortment has in store the variety of sarees, dupattas, suits in vibrant colours, royal blues, and red and mustards.

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There have been changes in the methodologies, equipment and even the compositions of yarns over the years, but there is a heritage attached with the skill associated with high quality weaving and products. The weavers from this area a have even received appreciation and royal patronage. WeaverStory has been focussing predominantly on the weaves, reviving designs from museums and traditional forms, and working with weavers themselves. (IANS)