Contemporary Tamil Living Spaces

“Each space tells its own story”

Delhi-based Arnav Rastogi believes that a City’s character is determined by the people who live there. He says, “What better way to depict a person than to explore the things that are very personal to someone? One’s house is such a thing…. From the whole house, I choose to shoot a single room, their ‘living space’. I am always fascinated by the way this one room mean so differently for different people. For some it is just a single room that the family calls home, for others it is a lavish extra space; some living rooms are all about display, showcasing only a few special things, while others have within them everything that is essential to the family that lives there. Spacious or cramped, stuffed with religious artifacts, paintings or crystal knick-knacks, a living room is one of the most important spaces of any home. And each one tells its own little story.” Arnav’s project Contemporary Living Spaces” is an exploration of this human diversity.

His project on living rooms has been published in the Sunday Guardian. He connects with people from different walks of life, visits their homes and captures their lifestyle in a very stark yet subtle manner. These vivid images are a diverse portrayal of his relationship with the common man and of various families and individuals in their comfort zones. These images also speak of the environment we create around ourselves that defines who we are.

Project 365 team photographer Arnav RASTOGI
Project 365 team photographer Arnav RASTOGI

Arnav first experimented with the camera during his college days, and was so hooked that he went on to switch from IT to photography. After his diploma at the Sri Aurobindo Center for Arts and Communication he went on to capture candid and striking images of people and their emotions and also wildlife. He has exhibited at the International Photo Festival organized by Creative Hut held at Ahmedabad in 2011 and is currently a part of a photographer’s collective called Fseven Photographers[1].

Arnav aspires to travel and take his project ‘Living spaces’ across the country and PROJECT 365 – Tiruvannamalai is a wonderful way forward. Within this one month, Arnav has entered the living rooms of many neighbors and friends of EtP and has created lingering images of their personal space. Though he is using the 35mm digital format for shooting, when it comes to printing, he will be experimenting with traditional salt and albumen prints.

Sri Dhavaneri Selvan / Contemporary Living Spaces / Image (C) Arnav Rastogi / Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Sri Dhavaneri Selvan / Contemporary Living Spaces / Image (C) Arnav Rastogi / Project 365 PUBLIC archives

Sri Dhanaveri Selvan (middle), a neighbour of EtP at Perumpakkam Road, is an electrical engineer. He has two girl children. His mother (left) also lives with him. His father-in-law Sethu Raman (right) lives behind Dhanaveri’s house.

Arnav fondly says, “Tiruvannamalai is a very spiritual and peaceful place, the people I have come across depict these qualities in their attitude and behaviour. I am very much impressed by the Tamil hospitality and often times I am offered home-made delicious Tamil food, which I greatly enjoy”.

Sri Vishnu Narayan Sthabathi's house / / Contemporary Living Spaces / Image (C) Arnav Rastogi / Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Sri Vishnu Narayan Sabhahit house / / Contemporary Living Spaces / Image (C) Arnav Rastogi / Project 365 PUBLIC archives

Sri Vishnu Narayan Sabhahit from Sri Ramana Ashram with his wife at his living room.

Sri Raju / Contemporary Living Spaces / Image (C) Arnav Rastogi / Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Sri Raju / Contemporary Living Spaces / Image (C) Arnav Rastogi / Project 365 PUBLIC archives

Raju moved from Chidambaram and is permanently settled in Tiruvannamalai. He works as an auto driver. He has developed keen interest to appreciate art.

Sri Pallavan / Contemporary Living Spaces / Image (C) Arnav Rastogi / Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Sri Pallavan / Contemporary Living Spaces / Image (C) Arnav Rastogi / Project 365 PUBLIC archives

Sri. Pallavan, Arts teacher (Rtd.), Danish Mission School with his family.

Sri Preethi Srinivasan's house / / Contemporary Living Spaces / Image (C) Arnav Rastogi / Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Sri Preethi Srinivasan / Contemporary Living Spaces / Image (C) Arnav Rastogi / Project 365 PUBLIC archives

Arnav says, “I learn and enjoy the many interactions that happen during these shoots. Two weeks back I had gone to shoot the living space of J Jayaraman, PROJECT 365 photographer and a resident of Sri Ramana Ashram. His house had two rooms, a small court-yard and a living room which is also his sleeping space. His space had a specific character… books, music instruments and several other objects were lying all over… inspite of the seeming chaos, there was a peculiar order….   looking at me JJ said, “in the outside world I have to adjust to the traffic around me, here all the traffic adjusts according to me”. I smiled and knew inwardly that I am going to capture one of my most interesting image…

(to be continued)

PROJECT 365 – A PUBLIC COLLECTIVE PHOTO ART PROJECT IS AN INITIATIVE BY EtP TO DOCUMENT THE FAST CHANGING ANCIENT CULTURE AND CONTEMPORARY LIFESTYLE OF SOUTH INDIA. THE FIRST PHASE OF THIS PROJECT IS ORGANISED IN TIRUVANNAMALAI, TAMIL NADU. FORTY PHOTOGRAPHERS FROM ALL OVER INDIA WILL BE USING PREDOMINANTLY ANALOG MEDIUM TO DOCUMENT THE MULTI-CULTURAL ASPECTS OF THIS ANCIENT TOWN. THIS PROJECT IS LED BY CONTEMPORARY INDIAN PHOTOGRAPHER ABUL KALAM AZAD. IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS, EtP WILL DOCUMENT THE SANGAM ERA PORT MUZIRIS, TINDIS AND THE ENTIRE CAUVERI DELTE BELT.

Disclaimer: All the images published in this blog is copyrighted property of the author and belongs to PROJECT 365 PUBLIC ARCHIVES. [1] – Profile of Arnav Rastogi by Ami Gupta. Prior permission is required to reproduce and / or and / or print in any form. If you need more information contact EtP at {0}4175 237405 / {0}94879 56405 / ekalokam@gmail.com

Project 365 initiators and partners
Project 365 initiators and partners

Ganesh Chaturthi / Birthday of Ganesh 2014

Ganesha Chaturthi  is the Hindu festival celebrated in honour of the Indian mythical god Ganesh (also called as Ganapathy, Pillayar, Vinayakar etc.,), the elephant-headed, the son of Parvati and Shiva, remover of obstacles and the god of beginnings and wisdom. The festival, also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, is observed in the moon Calender month of Bhaadrapada starting on the shukla chaturthi  (fourth day of the waxing moon period). The date usually falls between 19 August and 20 September. The festival lasts for 10 days, ending on Anant Chaturdashi (fourteenth day of the waxing moon period).

Project 365 Director Abul Kalam Azad and photographers Arnav Rastogi, Bhagyashri Patki, Leo James and Shiv Kiran have been documenting the happenings of this important South Indian Festival ‘Ganapathi Chaturthi 2014’ in Tiruvannamalai.

DAY ONE

The festival mood was felt even before a week. On the first day, many traditional clay artisans had created temporary stalls around the town, with huge lumps of clay, Ganesha moulds and PoP (Plaster of Paris).

Ganesh Chaturthi Day 1 / Image © Leo James
Ganesh Chaturthi  / Image © Leo James 2014
Ganesh Chaturthi Day 1 / Image © Leo James
Ganesh Chaturthi  / Image © Leo James 2014

Ganesh Chaturthi Day 1 / Image © Leo James

Ganesh Chaturthi  / Image © Leo James 2014

Ganesh Chaturthi  / Image © Abul Kalam Azad
Ganesh Chaturthi / Image © Abul Kalam Azad 2014

The huge Ganapathi sculptures were carried from one place to another using different vehicles – jeep, bullock carts, motor bikes etc., Almost every street had  images of Ganesha installed and decorated in public pandals (temporary shrines).

VinayakaGanesh Chaturthi Day 1 / Image © Leo Jamesr Chathurthi Day 1 / Instagram Image © Leo James
Ganesh Chaturthi  / Image © Leo James 2014
Ganesh Chaturthi Day 1 / Image © Abul Kalam Azad
Ganesh Chaturthi  / Image © Abul Kalam Azad 2014

The market was flooded with fruits and flowers to be offered to Lord Ganesha. Special umbrellas and decoration items made the local market colorful.

Ganesh Chaturthi  / Image © Abul Kalam Azad
Ganesh Chaturthi / Image © Abul Kalam Azad 2014
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Leo James
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Leo James 2014

In homes, pillayar idols are decorated with Bermuda grass known as arukampul (அருகம்புல் )and Modak, ladoo and other dishes are offered. The favorite food items of Vinayakar, including aval (rice flakes), pori (pop rice), kadalai (roasted chickpea) are distributed to the neighborhood families as part of the celebration.

Ganesh Chaturthi  / Image © Abul Kalam Azad
Ganesh Chaturthi / Image © Abul Kalam Azad 2014

ORIGIN

Though the actual origin of the festival is unknown, according to the legend, the festival marks the auspicious day of the birth of Lord Ganesha. The story goes as follows- Lord Shiva, the Hindu God of resolution, was away from Kailash due to some work. As Parvati was alone at home, she felt the necessity of some one to guard the door to her house while she took bath. When she did not get any one, she conceived of the idea of creating a son who could guard her. She then created Ganesha out of her sandalwood paste and breathed life into the idol. She then asked him to stand on the gate and do not let any body enter until she came out. Unfortunately, Shiva returned home in the meantime. As, Ganesha did recognize him, he stopped Shiva from entering as per his mother’s advice. This badly enraged Lord Shiva, who cut off Ganesha’s head by his trident. When Parvati saw beheaded Ganesha, took on the form of the Goddess Kali and threatened to destruct all the three worlds. The earth, the heaven, the nether world, all was shaken and every body ran to Shiva for solution. In order to appease Lord Parvati and save the world from destruction, Lord Shiva sent out his followers to find a child whose mother is facing another direction in negligence, cut off his head and bring it quickly. The first such child that came in the eyes of the Shiva followers was an elephant, so they brought the head of this elephant and Shiva placed it on the trunk of Parvati’s son and gave life into him. Parvati was the overwhelmed with happiness and embraced her son. They named her Ganesha i.e the Lord of all Ganas (followers).

Ganesh Chaturthi  / Image © Abul Kalam Azad
Ganesh Chaturthi / Image © Abul Kalam Azad 2014

The festival is celebrated as a public event since the days of Shivaji 1630–1680). However, the present kind of celebrations of Ganesha Chaturthi came in fashion in 1893, Lokmanya Tilak, an Indian freedom fighter and social reformer reshaped the annual Ganesh festival from a private family celebration into a community event. The day was conceived to be the National Festival in order to bridge the gap between the Brahmins and the non-Brahmins in the society. Tilak chose this festival for this purpose because Lord Ganesh was considered to be the ‘ God of Every man’. It then served as a meeting ground for people of all community and religion on a public platform. Since then the festival has served its cause of existence. Even now people irrespective of caste and community barriers celebrate this festival with great joy.

DAY TWO

During the second day, the eyes of the Ganesh are opened and it is believed that Ganesha shower his blessing upon the world on this auspicious day. Poojas are conducted at home as well to commemorate the birth of Ganesha.

Vinayakar Chathurthi Day 1 / Instagram Image © Arnav Rastogi
Vinayakar Chathurthi Day 1 / Image © Arnav Rastogi 2014
Vinayakar Chathurthi Day 1 / Instagram Image © Leo James
Vinayakar Chathurthi / Instagram Image © Leo James 2014

LORD GANESHA – “THE MYTHICAL CHILD OF EVERYBODY”

Vinayakar Chaturthi / Instagram Image (C) Bhagyashri Patki
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Bhagyashri Patki 2014

Sculptures of Ganesh has been created all over the world and probably is one of the most common art form. Off late Ganesha comes in different shapes and forms. Children enjoy and fancy this “god of all” and their enjoyment known no bound. They often spend their time around the installed pandals and prefer sleeping outside guarding their ‘Pillai Yar’.

Vinayakar Chaturthi / Instagram Image (C) Leo James
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Leo James 2014

DAY THREE

The third day, the Vinayakar idols were taken in a procession to nearby lakes and water bodies. Most of the idols are taken to the Lotus pond where it immersed, whilst the gathered chant ganesha hymns.

Vinayakar Chaturthi / Instagram Image (C) Bhagyashri Patki
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Bhagyashri Patki
Vinayakar Chaturth / Instagram image (C) Bhagyshri Patki
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Bhagyashri Patki 2014
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Leo James
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Leo James 2014
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Leo James
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Leo James 2014
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Leo James
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Leo James 2014
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Shiv Kiran
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Arnav Rastogi 2014

The ancient practice in contemporary times

Originally Ganesh idols were made of clay and worshipped with different variety of herbal leaves, plants and immersed at the end of the festival in a water (lake) along with the Idol. The herbal and medicated plants, leaves and the clay would purify the lake water. Those times, people used to drink lake water, and to protect people from infections and viral diseases especially in this season, this tradition was introduced. Since the festival is celebrated as a public event since the days of Shivaji, (1630–1680), the popularity of the festival became very high and clay idols became unaffordable due to the huge demand. The use of PoP became the practice which is not at all an environment friendly approach. The original purpose is somehow thwarted.

Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Arnav Rastogi
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Arnav Rastogi 2014
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Instagram Image (C) Bhagyashri Patki
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Bhagyashri Patki 2014
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Shiv Kiran 2014
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Shiv Kiran 2014
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Arnav Rastogi
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Arnav Rastogi 2014

After the ceremony and immersion of the idols, a separate team of volunteers strive to clean the pond, collect the left over bamboos and temporary structures.

Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Leo James 2014
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Leo James 2014
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Shiv Kiran 2014
Vinayakar Chaturthi / Image (C) Shiv Kiran 2014

Kannan, a local person is coming out of the now PoP filled dirty ‘Lotus pond’ where Idols of Ganesh were immersed, no longer a source of drinking water. The joy and celebration of the ancient practice is much welcome, however, the incredible original vision of purifying and valuing our water bodies has taken its own course. In contemporary times, one is left with the responsibility to re-define these practices in the current context to create a harmonious Earth for our future generation.

Disclaimer: All the images published in this blog is copyrighted property of the author and belongs to Project 365 PUBLIC archives. Prior permission is required to reproduce and / or and / or print in any form. If you need more information contact EtP at {0}4175 237405 / {0}94879 56405 / ekalokam@gmail.com