Lights, Colours and Action - Celebrating Diwali in KGP Style

While social media platforms are enraging with debate on the decision of Supreme Court of ban on firecrackers in Delhi, students at IIT Kharagpur continue their unique creative ways to celebrate what is now popularly called Green Diwali. Starting from the phase of preparation of diyas to be hung to the moment of displaying the gigantic bamboo structures or Chataayi decorated with diyas, Illumination or ILLU is a big celebration indeed.

Around 20 ft high canvasses made of bamboo Chataayi are crafted in each of 21 Halls of residence at IIT Kharagpur. But bamboo and burning diyas aren’t these a lethal combination? Well that’s where the bright minds of IITKgp differ. The Chataayis are layered with mud to make them fire proof. Students draw the artwork in giant scales on the bamboo chataayi. Thereafter the diyaas are tied on the designed as per the design requirement. Diyaas are tied with specially made copper or steel wires. The chataayis are then put straight on the ground. The diyas are then tied to them with specially made wires as per the drawings of the designs. Even the oil in diyas is chemically modified to last long enough for a show of 30 minutes. Some of the Halls dug a ridge in front of the canvas and fill it with water. The diyaas when lighted reflect the entire lighted design on the water.

Illumination is coupled with Rangoli, an exuberant combination of colours make the festival of light colorful as well. The key feature of Rangoli is the precision in the drawing and use of colours e.g. Howrah bridge and associated areas would be presented in such a way that under normal and neon lighting the Rangoli will have multiple effects. Rangoli also makes use of organic colours such as rice and pulse powder etc. The students use techniques to portray different paintings in different colour lighting in the same canvas.

Each Hall of residence prepare their own theme and compete on the eve of Diwali. The preparation goes on for almost a month. The giant structures communicate to the world India’s mythological heritage, current state of affairs or a social message. Last year while the Azad Hall of residence portrayed the concept of India against terrorism, LBS Hall highlighted the significance of farmers in India.

The competition is so intense that a member from a Hall will not even have full knowledge of the theme and design. And what is this competition worth? Apart from trophies, it is the Ragoolla Haandi and tempo shout!

"IITKgp is celebrating Diwali in a unique way for several decades and it has attracted the attention of many people in India and abroad due to its long-standing tradition and non-pollutant mode" said Prof. William Mohanty, President, Gymkhana, IIT Kharagpur.

A take-away of the Diwali celebration at IITKgp is the boost it gives to local artisans and traders. The earthern diyaas, wires, bamboo all are procured locally. And all of it in an eco-friendly way year after year, without losing the fun of Diwali, as 11000 students come together to celebrate a festival which probably has become more than Diwali, Illumination, a culture of IITKgp, a festival in its own rights.