Staying in a cosmopolitan society exposes us to customs, ideas and practices of the various communities that come together to form this beautiful and colorful tapestry i.e.India.
We used to celebrate the Navaratri festival in India in our colony. The pandal used to be erected and everyday all the members would come together to perform the aarti for the Goddess Durga. Each day the womenfolk would come up with these lovely decorated aarti plates. The ideas started to flow, the aarti plates became more more and creative and beautiful, until one day the Organizers decided to hold a competition for the best Aarti thal(plate). The Aarti is considered as the most vital part of the pooja and also marks the end of prayers and the beginning of the much awaited raas garba and dandia-raas dance for the goddess. Aarti for the Goddess is usually done with a small lamp lit with pure ghee kept on a plate and rotated clockwise or in semi circles from the left to the right. The Aarti plate has a lot of significance, so obviously a lot of love and devotion to the God/goddess is involved in decorating it.
Decorating the Aarti plate
The Aarti plate can be decorated using things available at home, so no expense of any kind is involved in it. You can use flour, oil, food colors (if you don’t use food colors u can use turmeric, kumkum powder available at home to give different colors) , pieces of fabric, string, mirrors, bangles, rangoli powder, Paper cut outs, nutshells, Tamarind seeds, different types of food grains, rice, wheat, flowers, leaves, You can use false flowers, glass pieces, Pot pourri.You can let your imagination run wild.
Here is an Aarti plate in which dough (wheat flour) has been used with food colors easily available in the market. The little dough boats /pockets have been filled with rice, kumkum and fresh flowers.
Here's another Aarti plate made with dough, the dough has been pricked with toothpicks to give it a different look
Below is an Aarti plate decorated with fresh flowers, pot pourri of dried flowers and leaves and a candle holder