Home Indian Culture The Colourful and Divine Facades Of Tamil Nadu’s Rural Properties

The Colourful and Divine Facades Of Tamil Nadu’s Rural Properties

The Colourful and Divine Facades Of Tamil Nadu’s Rural Properties


From exuberant hues, to pictures in search of celestial blessings and safety from undesirable influences, villagers boldly adorn even probably the most modest of dwellings

Photographs and Textual content by Anne Petry

 India is likely one of the most non secular nations on this planet, in addition to some of the colourful—that is recognized by everybody. Much less recognized is that the Southeastern state of Tamil Nadu might be a primary image of India’s vivid beliefs and picturesque religion. Let’s uncover this vibrant state, the place Hinduism is a dwelling faith, with historical customs deeply engraved within the rural psyche.

Subashni is about to gentle a lamp in honor of Lord Ganesha.

One of many fundamental gateways into Tamil Nadu is Chennai, previously referred to as Madras. With 11.5 million inhabitants, this is likely one of the nation’s most populous cities; however in such a huge fashionable municipality, it’s tough to sense the heart beat of traditions and folklore. So, whoever needs to see and really feel the genuine Tamil Nadu has to go away Chennai behind, drive to the countryside and, ideally, take a scooter to wander by way of the environment’ hidden tracks. 

That is the place you catch a glimpse of the standard “village way of life.” You possibly can stroll with farmers going to the fields, chat with ladies working in entrance of their properties, get unforgettable smiles from boys in uniforms coming from faculty and see younger women with braided hair biking again residence. These scenes, which Westerners might know solely from films, are snapshots of India’s rural every day life. 

Even they work exhausting and have lengthy days, the native individuals are all the time comfortable to see new faces and take care to welcome each customer and make them really feel at residence. Venda, who lives in a small hamlet, declares: “It isn’t fairly often that we now have outsiders right here, so at any time when somebody comes, we’re honored. It’s our obligation to open our door with a view to supply a chai and a few dry biscuits.” These households may not have a lot, however it’s uncommon to spend a day strolling by way of Tamil villages with out being invited by locals to go to their properties and sit with them for some time.

Brightly painted homes usually are not simply within the South of India, as proven on this colourful Himalayan village

Right here, one can uncover an uncommon structure—low roofed homes painted with vibrant colours, in order that no two properties look the identical. In Western nations, we’re accustomed to seeing uniformly coloured buildings, however conventional village homes in Tamil Nadu are fairly the other.

The truth is, it appears as if lots of of rainbows have showered the properties, leaving their colours on the partitions, that are adorned with three, 4, and even 5 completely different shades. Prem says: “These days development kinds are completely different from what they was once previously, they’re greater, with balconies and large home windows, however one necessary factor stays, colours! And I don’t suppose that it’ll change, as colourful homes are totally a part of our architectural and cultural heritage.” It appears, although, that locals have tailored traditions to modernity by incorporating colours not used previously, like fluorescent hues.

Apart from the multicolor facades, properties show Hindu Deities on their outer partitions—a statue of Ganesha, a framed image of Hanuman, or a carving of Lakshmi on a picket transom. Nagaraj tells me: “You’ll not discover many homes in Tamil Nadu that don’t have non secular photographs painted or drawn on their partitions, as these play an necessary function in our structure.”

The love and love that Indians have for his or her Gods will be as shut as the connection between mother and father and youngsters or two greatest pals. With the religion of devotees being so robust, it feels pure for the inhabitants to show their beloved divinities on their properties. 

In rural Tamil Nadu, it’s nonetheless widespread for 3 generations to stay beneath one roof.

It’s a widespread perception {that a} deity “works” for his or her followers, and by submitting needs, one can hope to obtain happiness and safety in return. Sita confirms, “Beginning my days with a puja is a technique to speak to God, to thank Him for this new day. I consider that by doing so, He’ll watch over me and my household all day lengthy.” Pujas will be so simple as lighting a lamp and providing flowers to the Deity, or they are often extra elaborate and detailed, with chanting and ample choices. Devotees see expressing their devotion as a technique to entry the divine and make their home a sacred sanctuary, a refuge from the troubles of the world. 

A village girl sits beneath the scary masks of Drishti Bommai, meant to push back the evil eye

This eager for safety remains to be particularly vivid within the countryside. Tamil Nadu, regardless of at present being probably the most industrialized state in India, has a historic legacy of being an agricultural state, closely depending on river water and monsoon rains for sustenance. One drought, and crops will be devastated; one insect invasion, and the work of a complete 12 months can disappear. 

In India, colours are all over the place, from saris to ornament, together with the facades of homes; a girl proudly exhibits off her residence decorations. Above her door is a protecting amulet, a brown pouch with easy facial options

These days, worry of a local weather catastrophe remains to be robust, and so are the superstitions and traditions! With a view to defend their crops, it’s common to see the inhabitants organising in fields scary masks or figures product of straw and clay. Having acquired an training to be a rational one that believes solely in what’s seen and in what will be outlined, I typically wrestle to grasp the aim and the which means behind these masks; however similar to faith, superstitions are intimate and private beliefs that don’t require clarification; they solely must be revered.

A well-known and intimidating masks that may be present in virtually each rural family is the ugly Drishti Bommai. Meant to keep at bay the evil eye, the masks is positioned instantly above the primary entrance of the home. With the identical intention, a inexperienced anonymous image is usually painted on exterior partitions (picture, web page 63).

Right here, a masks of Drishti Bommai hangs proper subsequent to Lord Ganesha, the Lord of Obstacles.

Despite the fact that exact meanings behind these symbols could also be unknown, as per custom, ladies proceed to attract these patterns. Geetika, 26, says, “Way back to I bear in mind, I’ve seen my grandmother after which my mom portray a inexperienced image on our home partitions with a view to preserve our household protected. From what I do know, despite the fact that it seems like a person, it truly represents a trident with two additional prongs. I’m not very certain concerning the exact which means, but when my elders painted this image, it have to be necessary, and so I honor our heritage by drawing it additionally.” Maybe it’s associated to Bhairava, a fierce protector type of God Siva.

Nevertheless, even probably the most entrenched traditions are topic to alter in fashionable instances. Daya, who’s 67 years previous, confesses: “Once I was younger, we used tree leaves to attract this image, and after a couple of minutes, it turned inexperienced. These days, despite the fact that it’s much less pure, we use inexperienced paint as a result of it’s extra sensible and resistant.” It is a method of adapting historical beliefs to the realities of the twenty first century!


Within the Western world, every day life is usually handled as one factor and faith as one other, like two separate, unrelated domains. In India, it’s fairly completely different. Tamil Nadu is the right instance, the place mystic beliefs and Hinduism are carefully intertwined with on a regular basis life and traditions. Faith is included as a lifestyle, a mode of thought that by way of centuries has develop into second nature. The large religion and devotion of the Indian folks is considered one of their most distinguishing options. It brings lots of of surprises to each traveler who decides to go to India, as every nook reveals a giant temple or a small altar, all erected within the title of Hindu Deities. 

In India, colours are all over the place, from saris to ornament, together with the facades of homes; a standard Tamil home: brightly painted, with a low ceiling, tiled roof and Deities displayed at every entry.

Lord Ganesha

Although Ganesh’s worship dates again to Vedic and pre-Vedic tradition, He emerged as a definite Deity, in clearly recognizable kind, within the 4th and fifth centuries CE, throughout the Gupta interval. He’s probably the most well-known and the universally-worshipped God in Hinduism.

Removed from Tamil Nadu, a Rajasthani girl sits in her colourful residence’s courtyard. Exhibiting us that each one throughout India this artform will be discovered.

Identified by completely different names, akin to Ganapati, Vinayaka, Vignesvara or Pillaiyar, Ganesh’s icons are discovered all through India. He’s invoked on all events, whether or not non secular or social. Ganesh is extensively revered because the remover of obstacles and, extra significantly, because the Lord of Beginnings, patron of arts and sciences, and the Lord of mind and knowledge. It’s believed that worshipping Him first brings concord to our residence, removes all problems and actions are all the time topped with information and accomplishment.

In accordance with the Brahmanda Purana, Ganesh has all universes current in Him, the previous, the current and the long run. Lord Ganesh’s best-known varieties have between two and 16 arms. The serpent is a standard characteristic in Ganesh iconography. It’s stated that the snake is used as a sacred thread, wrapped across the abdomen as a belt. The mouse is interpreted in a number of methods however typically it symbolises need. Additionally, the mouse is harmful and a menace to crops. Ganesh overcoming and mastering the mouse demonstrates His perform because the Lord of Obstacles.

By driving a lion and holding weapons, Ganesh affords safety and blessings to his devotees. The fortunate cross, known as swastika, is related to the great fortune given by Lord Ganesh. This signal of auspiciousness has crooked arms to signify the trail in the direction of our aims that’s not all the time straight, however stuffed with adjustments. The sound Om is taken into account to be the primary artistic sound of the universe. Additionally it is chanted aloud and recited in silence every day by Ganesh’s devotees, bringing with it His blessings…

Goddess Lakshmi

The Vedas have developed the idea of a Goddess because the embodiment of prosperity, success and peace. Lakshmi is the Goddess of Wealth. However wealth that doesn’t connote mere materials nicely being, nor cash, which is short-term. Actual wealth is divine wealth, it’s information, knowledge, being fearless and purity of thoughts and coronary heart. Additionally, on a extra human stage, wealth is having a great well being, a loving household, affectionate mother and father and youngsters and it’s having a home, land, grains and cows. Mahalakshmi symbolizes auspiciousness, She is the giver of prosperity, splendor and glory; She is understood to be the bestower of all advantages.

By praying to Lakshmi and by Her grace, additionally it is believed that one who has a real deep eager for liberation, can attain obtain mukti. Goddess Lakshmi can manifest Herself beneath eight completely different varieties representing eight completely different facets of prosperity. Gaja Lakshmi, Daughter of the Ocean (image beneath), is considered one of her eight manifestations. She is described as rising from the Sea of Milk when the devas and asuras have been churning it. She got here out of the ocean sitting on a lotus, with two lotuses in Her palms. Two elephants appeared from the ocean with a pot of milk and poured it on Her. Gaja Lakshmi is the protector of humanity, promoter of peace and prosperity.

Lord Hanuman

Hanuman has greater than a thousand names and as many qualities: as Janasrayah He gives shelter to folks, as Sankat Mochan He eliminates misery and brings happiness, as Sripradah He’s the bestower of splendour, as Ajarah He immunes from previous age, and as Virah He’s the conqueror of enemies in a battle.

He’s a very fashionable Deity, revered by all and infrequently, He’s a task mannequin for mankind. Temples devoted to Him are discovered throughout India. As well as, wherever there’s a temple of Ram, Hanuman’s murti is certain to be there. Identified for His loyalty and devoted service to Lord Rama, He can fly and alter kind at will. He’s probably the most valiant among the many warriors and possesses divine information. He’s acknowledged for energy and dynamism, and for all the time assembly emergencies with a transparent thoughts. Individuals revere Lord Hanuman for His distinctive mixture of bodily energy and valour with excellent intelligence, foresight and knowledge.

Some of the primal wants for people is to really feel protected and guarded. The concept of submitting to a divine being and in search of His shelter is prevalent in most religions, Hinduism included. As Hanuman saved Ram, for the plenty He shortly turned the right guardian to protect them from wild animals, thieves and different risks. God Hanuman is usually represented sitting in a sexy and highly effective posture, having giant earrings and different lovely golden ornaments.

Lord Krishna

Krishna is likely one of the most generally revered of all Hindu divinities. Throughout many traditions He’s worshiped as an avatar of God Vishnu and likewise as a supreme God in his personal proper. Within the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna is the divine speaker and seems because the instructor of Arjuna.

The title “Krishna” means “black,” “darkish,” “darkish blue”or “darkish as a cloud.” Krishna is the very supply of bliss. He’s the image of pure happiness, pleasure, and love; qualities which are the best enemies of the ego. The truth is, if there all the time has been a battle between ego and love, it’s as a result of the ego melts and disappears when love dawns inside. Lord Krishna is usually supplicated to resolve complicated issues and it’s believed that He is aware of methods to resolve nasty conditions in the very best curiosity of all involved.

He’s typically depicted as a toddler, crawling on His palms and knees or dancing with pleasure, a ball of butter held in His palms. Typically He’s a younger cowherd boy with a darkish blue complexion enjoying a flute or a prince giving philosophical course and steering. Lord Krishna has dominated the pages of Indian cultural historical past for hundreds of years and one can say that He has influenced the Indian thought, life and tradition in a really profound method.

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