It's hard not to be enchanted by the myriad Hindu festivals, each more fascinating than the previous, each with a distinct story from our rich mythology and with a distinct message from our deep scriptures. I can't say that I have a favorite festival, but do feel like Dussehra has an edge over the others. Think about it- it's a story of good over evil. Hard to resist that one. Then, especially in the north, there are performances of Ram-Leela, the colourful, folksy dramatisation of the Ramayana. This is followed by an elaborate burning of Rawaan's giant effigy. Nothing like symbolism for drilling home a message! I've been to several as a child, and I can't even begin to put in words that feeling of celebration when Ravaan, the epitome of evil, catches fire and burns to ashes.
As India modernises, let's keep these traditions alive for our children. Many of these festivities were the basis for thousands of rich forms of artistry in every medium conceivable- wood, metals, terracotta and textiles. Culture is ever-changing, always adapting. It's up to us what we choose to nurture. Happy Dassehra, all!
Eight years ago, we started a tradition in Pune, one that Punekars love for its energy and uniqueness- the Diwali Late Night Bazaar. We had the first one on a whim. For four days, the week prior to Diwali, we'd spread out our beautiful range of furniture and home decor in our equally beautiful gardens! Plus, we'd throw our lawns open to other exhibitors, who brought in jewelry, apparel and more home decor. The Bazaar stayed open till midnight, a merry mix of excited exhibitors and shoppers, street food stalls, musicians and yes, dedicated staff, who often reached home way past midnight. We subsequently changed the timing to 10 pm, and moved from four days to three, not because of a dearth of visitors, but because it simply got too tiring. Of course, everyone at Sanskriti Lifestyle loved the energy and enthusiasm of customers strolling even at that late hour! Now, eight years later, we are gearing up for our 8th Diwali Late Night Bazaar (18- 20 October). Watch this space for images of products on display at the Bazaar. We hope Pune enjoys the event as much as we enjoy hosting it!
At Sanskriti Lifestyle, we have a mix of genuine antique furniture and excellent replicas. The wooden door featured (top left) is a genuine antique from a demolished home in Rajasthan. The grain mill is old, and used to be a common kitchen tool in most homes.
We also have a great range of replicas, like the bench and the side chair with Singapore cane (bottom). Whether old or new, our furniture and home decor is "top quality and ever-green", to quote a customer :) All our replicas are made with recycled teak wood from demolished homes. Recycled wood has already been seasoned over the years. So our furniture doesn't face common issues like warping and swelling which even new teak wood can face. More importantly, recycled wood is great for our environment as it reduces the market for illegally-felled forest trees.
Anyone who has visited Sanskriti Lifestyle knows how important the environment is to us. For our buildings, we've made copious use of old doors, windows and pathways. Plus, the number of flowering trees and creepers we've planted is a testament to our commitment to our environment. Visitors to our lifestyle store know first hand that Sanskriti Lifestyle is as much about shopping as it is about experiencing this "beautiful landscaped ambiance"- again, as noted by a customer. It seems fitting to share with our online customers the "fleur du jour", then! Featured here is a bunch from our beautiful Madhur Malti creeper.
Also featured are silk embroidered cushions and wall panels from Kutch.
Rajasthan and Gujarat have always been famous for their beautiful, intricate embroidery. The copious use of little round mirrors interspersed with bright motifs in herringbone make this style truly unique.
Another form of embroidery, the humble running stitch, has made quite a spectacular comeback. Till recently, it was used to create quilts from old sarees. Women of a household would get together in what was as much a social activity as a creative one. This tradition has pretty much disappeared in urban India, but the popularity of the running stitch is very much alive, apparent by the popularity of bed covers, cushion covers, even garments and fashion accessories accentuated with the simple running stitch. India is truly blessed with spectacular art forms. Bravo to the designers who use traditional art forms to complement our current lifestyles.
The birth of lord Krishna is a huge celebration all over India. Devotion to this Hindu God is very apparent from the day-long fasts by millions of people on this day. Also popular is the traffic-halting "dahi-handi", where men clamber onto each other's backs to create a human pyramid high enough to smash an earthenware pot suspended high up in the middle of the town square. Imagine, just for an instant, that the person perched right on top slips, and slides slowly down his compatriots' shoulders. Remind you of something? The free-falling Indian Rupee? Let's hope that one year from now, we are looking at a stronger Rupee, down from its dizzying heights of 68.80/-. Happy Janmashtami!
As sourcers of Indian handicrafts, we get to see the breadth and diversity of craftsmanship in every corner of our country, whether it's in wooden furniture, textiles, or gold and silver jewelry. These artisans have skills that have been passed on from generation to generation, and going forward, the fate of this craftsmanship will depend on the relevance of the designs for today's lifestyles and homes. Here are some successful hybrids:
Kundan jewelry is gorgeous. Full stop. No Indian marriage or major festival is complete without a kundan "set"- a heavy necklace with a pair of almost impossible-to-wear earrings. Too many of us have suffered through the pain of aching, angry earlobes, just to wear this show-stopper.
But times have changed. While we Indian women appreciate the artistry of our rich heritage, it just isn't practical to wear these opulent, not to mention expensive, pieces. Kundan artisans caught onto this and adapted the classic art form into more wearable, smaller designs to suit modern sensibilities. Today's designs smaller and more affordable, since they're made in silver, with a gold polish. Precious stones like diamonds, emeralds and rubies are substituted with glass and semi-precious stones.
Cultures need to adapt in order to survive, and kudos to these artisans for making kundan so wearable and easy on our purses! I love wearing my kundan earrings with jeans and a white shirt- that way, I'm in touch with my past, while being solidly rooted in the present.
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Culture and its evolution is something Sanskriti Lifestyle holds dear, because of which, we are so much more than just a furniture store. We recognise and love that as Punekars, we are continuously exposed to and responding to cultural cross-pollination. We are, as we speak, witnessing a new emerging culture and as a result, our lifestyles are changing. A case in point? A decade or so ago, chai tapris and canteens were an integral part of the day. Today, we love our Starbucks and CCD. Of course, the memory of that hot, sweet, tapri chai served in little ribbed glasses, conjures such happy memories for so many of us. This colourful chai tapri set is sort of an ode to those colourful days :) What do you think is the future of "tapri chai"? Tweet / share your thoughts- #tapri chai.
Hi! I'm one of the founding members of Sanskriti Lifestyle, and have absolutely loved our journey from small, tucked-away little gift store to our new avatar of sprawling bungalows dotting our beautiful gardens. Our philosophy is to put a smile on our customers' face, as they stroll through the colonial bungalows and embark on a discovery of our (very!) diverse home decor and furniture. We want to help our customers create their unique living space, either through our beautiful products, or through our style tips and ideas. Follow this blog. Team Sanskriti hopes you will enjoy it!