Saturday, December 3, 2011

Transit of Sidereal Saturn

Those who follow Hindu (sidereal) astrology may be aware that on November 15, 2011, Saturn transited from Virgo (Kanya) to Libra (Tula). Saturn is exalted in Libra at 20 deg, so, it is now in a position of strength. From this exalted placement, Saturn casts aspects on Sagittarius, Aries and Cancer. Interestingly, with Jupiter currently transiting Aries, Saturn and Jupiter are in mutual aspect and, Aries, Libra and Sagittarius are also under the double transit impact of Saturn and Jupiter. As I have written elsewhere, the significations of the house or the sign that is activated by the double transit of the two slowest moving planets will come to fruition, especially, if one is currently running the dasha (planetary period) of Saturn or dasha of the lord of any of these signs (Mars for Aries, Venus for Libra or Jupiter for Sagittarius). As Mr. K.N. Rao has convincingly shown, Jupiter is the giver, but without Saturn's approval, Jupiter's gift will not take effect. It may seem counter-intuitive that a malefic planet known for obstruction is needed to have good things happen, but, that is the way it is! You can verify it in your own chart the transit positions of Jupiter and Saturn for any significant event in your life, marriage, birth of a child, job etc. (On the day my daughter was born, I was running the dasha (main period) of the planet in the 5th house and antar-dasha (sub-period) of 5th lord and, transiting Jupiter and Saturn were both aspecting the 5th lord and the 5th house. )

Here are some astrological facts about Saturn:

Name in Sanskrit: Shani
Signs: Makara (Capricorn) and Kumbha (Aquarius)
Day of the week: Sanivara (Saturday )
Direction: West
Season: Shishira (second half of winter)
Nature: malefic, tamasic
Kaalapurusha rulership: Miseries
Gender: Neuter
Son of : Surya and Chhaya (shadow) 
Exalted: Libra 20 deg; moola trikona: Aquarius 0 deg-20 deg
Directional strength: 7th house
Natural friends: Mercury, Venus
Represents: longevity, old age, death, renunciation
Represents (physical): limbs, feet, cemetery
Nakshatra (lunar mansion):  Pushya, Anuradha, Uttarabhadrapada
Dasa length: 19 years
Favorable in houses: 6
Aspects:  3, 7 and 10 house from itself
Yogas: Shasha yoga, when Saturn in exaltation or in its own sign is in a kendra (quadrant)

Navagraha Kirtana: divAkaratanujaM shanaishcaraM
Temples: Tirunallar temple, Karaikkal, Tamilnadu.

Mantra to chant: Om Saniswaryayai Namah
Kolam for Shani: You will find it on my blog here

Note: Saturn image source: Wikipedia Commons

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum

Not having to do any holiday shopping, I spent Black Saturday at the Metropolitan Museum of Arts' new permanent gallery on Islamic Art.  It is named "Islamic Art" even though the curator of the gallery describes the collection as "primarily secular". It is also exclusively about the material culture of the padshahs, the sultans, and their nobles. If you are interested in knowing how the common people lived or what they consumed, you would not find it here. Despite such problematics, it is a grand visual and artistic treat and worth a visit. To whet your appetite, below is a sample of what you will find there:
Damascus Room, Syria, 17 century 

Latticed stone window, Mughal Empire, India, 16th cent

Page from one of the largest Qurans, (each line 3 ft. long), Samarqand, early 14th cent,

Album of Calligraphies, Ottoman Period 1500

Turquoise and Black Raqqa Ware, Iran, 15th cent

Enameled Glass, Syria

Tombstone, carved marble, Iran 1352

Gallery Entrance

All photos except the "Damascus Room" are by Indira Govindan

Damascus Room from the Museum website 

Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mod Podge Transfer on Wood Surfaces

I picked up these cute little wooden boxes from Michael's for $1.50 a piece. They looked like little portmanteaus waiting for something to be put inside or on it. I decided to add a label on the lid using the modge podge transfer technique. I used this label from the Graphics Fairy. My method was simple but turned out quite well. Below are the instructions:

1. Print a mirror image of the label using ink jet printer.
2. Apply  a thin coat of the modge podge on the image and glue it on the top of the lid with the image side down. Press the paper gently but firmly so that it adheres on the wood.
3. Let it dry completely.
4. Wet the surface of the paper with little water and gently rub off the paper till the whole image is revealed.
5. I painted the box white around the image so that the image would retain its vintage yellowing color. After the painting, I applied a thin glaze on the image.

Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Collage Art: Birds

In many ways, fall and winter are also bird seasons. Nothing signals  the approaching winter as the sight of the birds, shadowy silhouettes against the low sun, making their way to warmer regions. May be, that was why when I wanted to create some new collages for the shop, I chose all bird images from the Graphics Fairy . They are all my favorite birds--peacock, owl and parrot. (Of course, no artwork by an Indian can be complete without including a peacock somewhere.)

The compositions are straight forward and unfussy, letting the color and the beauty of the bird images to shine through. I like the way they have turned out and they are available at my Etsy shop.

Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Number 10 in the Series: Yoga Art

Yesterday, I completed the tenth and the eleventh painting in my elephant yoga art series, which felt like a bit of a milestone. Two years ago, when I did my first piece (below) I did not think I had the imagination to continue with it for this long. In the overall scheme of things, ten is  not a huge number especially given that Patanjali's yoga sutras have hundreds of yoga postures of which at least fifty are currently practiced and, I should have been able to churn out one art piece every week. It was slow going for me mainly because I wanted to depict the poses as accurately as possible while finding a proper way to align the trunk (!), simultaneously maintaining the beauty and the dignity of the character (elephant) doing the poses. Then there was always the question of how to make the baby elephant part of the story. The idea for the asana usually tends to come after the daily yoga practice and I will it work in my head during my long daily commute and then start sketching it on paper.  I am not a a quick draw artist. So, at this stage, eraser becomes absolutely indispensable as you can see below.

Over the course of two years,  the  paintings  evolved organically and began to find its audience. Because I had decided that I would not sell copies, each and every buyer gets an original painting done fresh and new for her. Yes, my buyers are usually women and many of them are from the West Coast.

You can read more about the evolution of my yoga art here. Below are images from my complete yoga series and, you will find them all in my Etsy shop.

Most Popular!

First and Favorite!

Young Mothers' Favorite

Another Young Moms' Favorite

My Sister's Favorite

Monday, October 10, 2011

How Do You Say Soap in French?

As you know, I like decorating boxes. Inspiration to decorate the box with french soap labels when I happened upon several of them at the Graphics Fairy site under the French category. To keep it cohesive, I decided to use several of the lovely soap labels (or savon as they are called in French). To start with, I decoupaged a background layer of sheet music and then adhered the labels on top. I stained the sides and stamped on the top, added a bit of glitter glue and it was done.

Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed....

This weekend I worked on decorating a whole set of wood boxes with bird theme. For bird images, I went to the popular and ever generous free graphics site The Graphics Fairy. In addition to the vintage bird images, I also threw several other types of paper such as chiyogami, music sheet and regular scrap paper into the mix. Hence the title above. This mix n' match makes these boxes visually more interesting, I think. Take a look.

Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Chalkboard Cloth Halloween Tags

I was inspired to create these tags when I saw this fabulous clip art from the Graphics Fairy. I found so many more that I just had to make some art with them.

To make these tags, I first printed these images on pages torn from a 1950 biography of an actor. With cropping and careful placement I could print about three to four images on a single page. I deepened the vintage look by inking the edges with distress ink. I adhered the image on to one side of a halloween themed scrap paper. On the other side, I adhered a cured piece of chalk cloth (not chalk paint). The two photos above show the front and the back. The pictures below show the individual tags. A nice warming project for a gray rainy Saturday morning.

* You can get the chalkboard cloth from this online store.

Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


The Paper Stacks, an online collaboration hosted by Seth Apter of Altered Page, starts tomorrow. Although it is called Paper Stacks, Seth defines it broadly to include "papers, books, journals or anything else of your liking". So, I decided to make a stack of my fabric stash. It was quite tricky because georgettes and the chiffons are slippery materials and I wanted to create the same dimensional look that a stack of books would give. As I piled one on top of the other I did ever so gently holding my breath which I did not let go till I took the photo above. Then came dissolution.  papers, books, journals, or anything else of your liking

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Big Temple, Tanjore, India

Ornamented Exterior, Big Temple

Main Entrance, Big Temple

The Hindu temple is a condensed image of the cosmos constructed as a mandala  known as the vastu purusa mandala. The Purusa refers to the Universal essence which is without form or substance; Vastu refers to the site or the bodily existence or substance of Purusa. At the center of the mandala is the sanctum where the divine image is placed; this divine image, made in stone or wood or brick is the material consecrated representation of the Universal essence.

The building of the Hindu temple is not left to the imagination or the creativity of the shilpi (architect) or the artisans; it is strictly guided by the sacred texts called the shilpa shastras. The construction of a temple, from start to finish, is considered a ritual activity. Architecturally, the Hindu temple resembles a mountain and represents the link between heaven and earth. The triangular tower like structure is called  the shikara or gopuram and is located directly over the inner sanctumLike a mountain, the exterior of the temple is lush with intricate carved representation of various plant, animal, human and divine forms, while the inner sanctum, where the main deity is placed, with enclosed walls is dark. The interior of the temple directs our attention to the center, the garbha or the womb, that which is the source of the Universe. The inner sanctum is called the garbagraha or the womb chamber.

The journey of the worshipper to the temple is considered a pilgrimage in itself. The pilgrim starts the journey by circumambulating the temple first, the exterior form of the Universe, then walks to the interior sanctum, the center of the Universe. Approaching the sanctum, the worshipper performs another circumambulatory passage around the sanctum before "seeing" the deity at the center. The deity in the inner sanctum is the primary consecrated image of the temple, though a temple may have several secondary gods housed in various shrines placed in appropriate quadrants of the mandala.

A Hindu goes to the temple to receive 'darshana', a Sanskrit word meaning "seeing". It is a dialectical act, seeing the divine and being seen by the divine. According to Hindu theology, God is present in the image and is real.  By standing in front of the image and looking into its eyes, the worshipper seeks the divine blessings.

The images shown here are of the Brihadeeshwara Temple, a designated UNESCO World Heritage site that turned 1000 years old last year. It is located on the banks of river Cauvery in the town of Tanjore, Tamilnadu, India. It was built by one of the emperors of the Chola dynasty, Rajaraja Chola. As befitting the richest empire of its time, it was built on a large scale and came to be called the Big Temple. Dedicated to  Hindu god Shiva, its most striking features are the 200 ft tall tower (gopuram) that rises from the base sanctum, the massive granite cupola (vimana) at the top of the tower and majestic stone image of Nandi, the sacred bull.  It is one of the best examples of the south Indian style temple architecture.

I have not been the temple myself but my husband got the chance to see it just as it was being renovated. I think these photos have captured its majesty and magnificence.

Nandi, the sacred bull

Thanks for visiting.

(Photos courtesy: S.V. Govindan)