Lamps that harbinger prosperity

Terracotta elephant lamps

Terracotta elephant lamps  

A LARGE number of brass lamps, fashioned by artisans from all over Tamil Nadu, are on display at the ``Karthikai Deepam'' exhibition organised by Poompuhar at their showroom on Big Bazaar Street in Coimbatore.

To help the artisans market their products, the Tamil Nadu Handicrafts Development Corporation Ltd., a Tamil Nadu Government undertaking popularly known as Poompuhar, has helped to bring their products to customers who would prize the creations.

Encouraged by the good response to the exhibitions organised for Vinayagar Chaturthi and Navarathri, the organisation has decided to hold the show until November 20, excluding Sundays. Exhibition timings are 9.30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on all working days, and there is a 10 per cent festival discount.

V. Subbian, manager, Poompuhar Sales Showroom, says that the products include the traditional, free-standing ornamental lamps ranging in height from 18 inches to six feet, besides special lamps dedicated to Vinayakar, Lakshmi, Karumari and Kamatchi. There are also the famed, multiple-tiered Malabar lamps, ranging in height from six inches to five feet.

Another novelty is the long-burning ``thoonda vilakku'', which can remain alight for hours together without any maintenance. While the smaller sizes of these long-burning lamps are designed to hold half a litre of oil, the bigger ones are meant to hold twice as much fuel.

In keeping with the demand for newer styles, there are free-standing brass lamps surmounted by images of Vinayakar, Lakshmi, Iyyappan, the ``annam'' bird, Annai Velankanni and the cross.

For those who desire to purchase the familiar ``agal'' lamp, there are products in several shapes and designs, all marked by meticulous metalwork.

A majestic branched lamp on display

A majestic branched lamp on display  

Hanging lamps have a very long history, and seem to have been quite popular in affluent homes, even in ancient times. They are basically space-saving lamps that are designed to throw a comparatively shadow-free circle of light upon the ground.

Ornamental chains, with geometrical designs upon the individual links, enable them to swing gently, without spilling the oil or putting out the flame.

Perhaps the most spectacular of the standing lamps are the branched lamps, which display a pleasing cluster of lights. While the smallest of these branched lamps are two feet high, the biggest ones can be as much as seven feet tall.

An aesthetic design ensures that the smaller lamps are on the upper levels and the bigger ones at the lowest levels, but that all of them are of similar shape and design.

Embellishments and decorations on the branches add grace to the entire structure, which is constructed in such a manner that it is heavier at the bottom than at the top, so that it does not easily topple over or get knocked down.

One of the specialities this year is the ``Ashtalakshmi lamp'' bearing the images of Adhi Lakshmi, Dhanya Lakshmi, Dhairiya Lakshmi, Gaja Lakshmi, Santhana Lakshmi, Vijaya Lakshmi, Vidya Lakshmi and Dhana Lakshmi.

This eight-in-one lamp honours the Goddess who bestows upon her devotees the blessings of high status, bounteous harvests, mental strength, loving family, devoted children, safe travel, wisdom and prosperity.

By Michael Raj A. A.

in Coimbatore Photos: K. Ananthan

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