Uttrakhand is known for its heritage, culture art and traditions. It has its own individuality in temple architecture, painting, jewellery making, wood carving, candle making, and also in the performing arts like dance and music There is a very famous form of art in Uttarakhand known as AIPAN.

Aipan [ Alpana] is taken from the Sanskrit word “Lepana”( means doing Plaster).Aipan is a traditional folk art which is specifically made by women and daughters of Uttarakhand.

This art is done on the floor over a brick-red background with white paste made out of rice flour. There are various types of geometric designs which were made using last three fingers of hands. The art comprises lines, dots, and various geometric and rhythmic patterns. Every element and motif has special meaning.

The depiction of the several Hindu deities, representation of Goddess Lakshmi, motifs inspired by the village life, streams and rivers, and the protective Mountain Gods—everything tells a story, limns the rich cultural heritage.

EXISTENCE AND IMPORTANCE

This typical art is done on all special occasions and household ceremonies and rituals, Viz. Ganesh Chaturthi, Makara sankranthi, Kark sankranthi, Initiation ceremonies, Weddings, Shivaratri and Laxmi puja. It is believed that these motifs evoke divine power, which brings good fortune and wards off evil. The art form is used to decorate floors and walls at the puja room (place of worship) and entrance of homes.

TYPES OF AIPAN

Saraswati Chowki : Goddess Saraswati is mainly symbolized of learning. When a child starts education, a puja (worship) is generally held to begin the good education life of the child. The main feature of this Aipan is a five pointed star with a swastika flower or a diya in the mid. The performer then proceeds to design the centrepiece with floral or flowing patterns.

Nav Durga Chowki : This Aipan form is actually used during ritual Devi pujas. The essential themes here are the nine dots that show the Nav Durgas. The simplest way to form swastika is with 9 dots, also called as Nav Swastik. It symbolizes formation and development and encourages people to walk ahead in the search of achievement.

Shiv or Shivarchan Peeth : Lord Shiva is the supremacy God in the Himalayan. He is worshipped during the months of Savan and Magh (according to the Hindu calendar). 28 or 108 Parthiv Lings are reserved in the copper thali and lord Shiva is drawn onto the ground. This is an 8corner design that is done with 12 dots connected by 12 lines. To make this design more striking, an outside border of four plus four corners are also drawn.

Asan Chowki : This Asan Chowki is mainly used during diverse type of Pujas. It is an adorned seat for follower and his wife for a ritual worship.

Dhuli Arghya Chowki : For the wedding occasion, the bridegroom’s party normally reached in the evening at the time of Twilight or sunset. In the previous days, bridegroom party arrive to the bride’s place with dusty feet. Dhuli Argya Chowki is actually done to welcome bridegroom.

Chamunda Hast Chowki : The Chamunda chowki is basically made for ‘yagyas’ or ‘havans’. The middle part of the chowki is a design of two triangles interspersed with two transverse lines running diagonally both, with a 5 pointed star in between, enclosed in a circle. The gap is covered up with lakshmi’s feet or flowing patterns. The circle is decorated with 8 petals of the lotus flower.

Lakshmi Yantra : Lakshmi being the goddess of wealth is worshipped on the festive of Deepawali. Before the deity is kept on the place where the Puja will be held, the Lakshmi Yantra is made on the ground with ochre colour (Geru) and rice paste. In most Kumaoni families, instead of a metal statue or clay of Lakshmi, sugarcane is cut and kept across. Traditional female wear like a lahanga (long skirt) and Odhni (shawl) garnish the sugarcane to make it resemble like a female form. Therefore, is the lovability of life invited with ceremony precision to supervise over a household.

Janeyu Chowki : At the time of ‘Janeo’ or holy threading ceremony, the drawing of Janeyu Aipan is necessary. The centre part is made of seven stars within a six-corner drawing. The seven stars basically symbolized the ‘Sapta Rishis’ and around this floral design are made with dots.

Jyoti Patta : in the Kumaon region there is practice of making a “Jyoonti” at sacred proceedings like thread ceremony, naming and marriages The first line represents Himalayas as it is the practice to send the first summons to them. Subsequently, there are lines of geometrical patterns or floral designs. One central panel has two lotus flowers on either side or a tree which signifies the legendary Kalpavriksha. Lord Brahma, the Creator of the Universe, and Vishnu, the Protector, are said to dwell in the roots of the tree, Lord Shiva, the Destroyer, in its trunk and his wife, Parvati, in the uppermost part of the tree. Below the tree, there are two birds that are painted for luck and growth. The main panel is associated with three ‘Matrikas’ attended by Lord Ganesha. The mid of the panel has Krishna-Radha or even images of the groom and bride. On the peak, there are the two round faces of Anyari Devi and Ujyari Devi, the presented idols over Light and Darkness. Ranking the core panel is a complex design of dots and lines known as “Bar Boond”. This show an invitation as well as prayer to the gods to be there at the event of wedding and consecrate the couple.

Acharya Chowki : This is an aipan design which is particularly drawn for the Pandit or Acharya during the occasion of wedding. The lotus and other favourable signs like conch shell, bell, or sometimes even two birds (parrots) are painted just about the Swastik.

Durga Thapa : Durga Thapa is painted on paper by Kumaoni women for two Durga Pujas that are seized during the year, one in between the month of March to April and other before the time of Dussehra. This drawing is highly difficult and complex. There are numerous gods and goddesses that are represented, along with the ten-armed Goddess who rides the lion. There are favourable symbols like conch shed, lamp, ben, tulsi, grain, rice, and swastika are drawn to augment the beauty of Goddess Durga.

The Surya Darshan Chowki : This Aipan is related with the birth or naming ceremony of a new child. For the first 11 days the newborn baby is kept indoors, and on the 11th day the baby is brought outside for Surya Darshan. This chowki is designed on the floor where the pastor sits performing mantras.

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