Festival of lights, a display of antique oil lamps in Hyderabad

Antique collectors oil lamps on display at The Purple Turtles in Hyderabad

December 14, 2023 05:24 pm | Updated December 18, 2023 04:53 pm IST

Radeesh Ratnakar Shetty 

Radeesh Ratnakar Shetty 

Radeesh Ratnakar Shetty is the owner of more than 400 lamps collected from across the world. At Deepotsav, Radeesh’s collection is being showcased at his store, The Purple Turtles in Jubilee Hills. The collection of lamps pays homage to the timeless significance of traditional oil lamps, where one can see lamps such as Ravana Vilakku, Rooster Pahana and Nila Vilaku. The exhibition, open for viewing from 10.30am to 8pm at the store, tells of the significance of these lamps and their position in a household or a temple.

A Garuda lamp at The Purple Turtles

A Garuda lamp at The Purple Turtles | Photo Credit: PRAVEEN VARMA

Most of the lamps are antique pieces that were acquired from temples, people’s homes and collectors. The exhibition is on view till December 16 at The Purple Turtles. 

Radeesh says, “The collection unfolds a captivating narrative of light. It features carefully curated vintage oil lamps sourced from diverse regions of our country. My passion for lamps began in my early twenties. I tell everyone, instead of me searching for lamps, they find me. I was once trekking in Sri Lanka and I got a random offer from a man. He showed me beautiful brass lamps and asked if I would buy them. I told him I could not trek with the lamps; however, if he were back at the same spot in three hours (we would return to the spot from the trek) I would buy them. To my surprise he was there waiting for me. I bought the lamps and added them to my collection. They are beautiful rooster lamps that are used in meditation.”

Hanging outdoor lamps

Hanging outdoor lamps | Photo Credit: PRAVEEN VARMA

When asked about the cleaning process of the old oil lamps, Radeesh says, “That is the beauty of antique lamps. Many collectors, including me, will appreciate antique lamps with the old burnt oil and the patina.”

Radeesh mentions that most lamps sold to collectors are usually sold to make space for new lamps. “Especially in temples. When a bigger and a better lamp is donated then the old ones are put out for collectors. South India and Sri Lanka are the places I have collected most lamps from. And they are usually from temples. I have a few unique pieces from Gujarat, Sri Lanka and Odisha. Lamps from Odisha have intricate Dokra work. The figurines on them are small but detailed. Some of them have beautiful patina forms. They actually make them more desirable, “explains Radeesh. 

The exhibition ends on December 16, 2023. They are on display at The Purple Turtles, 885, Road No. 45, Masthan Nagar, CBI Colony, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad, Telangana

The collection will be at Chennai.

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