Friday, 4 April 2014

Diwali Lamps with air drying clay

Diwali is our most important festival, celebrated in autumn as the ‘festival of lights’. It signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance and good over evil. The festival typically is spread over a 5 day period, but the main festival day of Diwali falls on New Moon day.

There is spiritual, religious and mythological significance attached to Diwali. The most popular story is honouring the return of Lord Rama with his brother Lakshmana and his wife Sita from 14 years of exile. It is said that when they returned to their kingdom, people lit thousands of lamps all over the kingdom to celebrate his return after vanquishing the demon king, Ravana, and restoring order to the world.

There are rituals, festivities, delicacies, shopping for new clothes, gifting, visits by well-wishers and relatives. The best highlight of the festival, though, is fireworks and lamps. Every Hindu household in India will be illuminated, inside and outside, with brightly lit oil or wax lamps, electric rice-bulb lights and lanterns of different sizes, shapes and colours. This will be for weeks before and after the festival. There will be, literally, millions of lights everywhere around. It’s a gorgeous sight to behold! 

This year we were far away from home, in London. A was almost 4 years old and she hardly had any remembrance of the festival she celebrated a year back. We dressed up in traditional finery, (over which we wore jackets, gloves and bobble hats!), and took her to see the fireworks in a nearby Hindu temple. We made a rangoli (geometric or floral designs on the floor with rice powder) at home and decorated it with different colours. We ate Diwali sweets and had a traditional lunch at home.

We couldn't really look forward to light lamps outside the house here as it gets too windy and chilly in the evenings. So instead of purchasing the deep clay lamps, I decided to make hollow short-staying lamps at home. I had purchased air-drying clay at Hobby Craft, not really knowing what to do with it, just because it looked interesting to me. I got to work.

I started with simple designs – being a novice with a 3 year old apprentice, I did not want to dream big. So we started with basic shapes - square, circle, rhombus, triangle. Then we made a star and a couple of slightly deeper lamps. They were pretty easy to make as the clay really moulds well in your hands. You might need some water to assist you if you want to use a blob again – it kind of starts hardening even at room temperature. When I handed some clay to A to get her also involved in the fun, I got a little adventurous. I tried a floral shape lamp. Hmmm, not bad. We had just visited a museum last week where the Amazon Rainforests were on special display, and A wanted me to make an anaconda. And so I did! All in all , it wasn’t a bad idea at all. We proudly displayed our creations to Appa when he came home from work. The next day, we sat about colouring them with acrylic. Acrylic gives a thick shade and also a shiny texture. With some glitter glue and some paint on paint designs, we glowed with pride at our finished product. They looked absolutely sublime!

We lit them on Diwali day and decorated our home with them! :-)

This was the rough cut  - after they were dry -

And this was the coloured, final output! :-)

Did you check out our green, slimy anaconda? ;-)

We also decorated our Rangoli with them! 

Though we missed family and friends thoroughly, we had a simple and sweet Diwali at ‘home’! 


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  2. Oh this is so creative! I am a DIY freak as well. Nice to have chanced upon your blog. My last post for D was on DIY as well! Looks like there will be a lot to learn from your blogs. Good luck with rest of the challenge!
    I blog at :

  3. En-light-ening read....simple concept but brilliant use! Each diya has come out so well. And the colours have added excellent charm to them. Very nice work girls!

  4. hey those lamps look very pretty.... nice one!