“The temple bell stops, but the sound keeps coming out of the flowers” -Masuo Basho (1644-1694)
“Adiv’s Temple Blessings Project, our flagship program, was born from my passionate desire to use the flower offerings that were traditionally tossed into the sea after being offered at temples. I was inspired by the dye potential held in every cast-off flower, and the blessings within. My initial research and experiments began with marigolds because they are the most important flowers in all of our rituals. They are also the cause of considerable environmental pollution. My obsession became the core of our work” -Rupa Trivedi
Every day, across India, millions of people go to temples to leave puja offerings of fragrant fruits and flowers to the gods. In Mumbai, for example, Siddhivinayak, a Ganesh temple, is one of largest and busiest temples in all of India, collecting around 300-500 kg of floral offerings each day. Hindu custom dictates that these offerings be returned to water, and the waste is dumped into the sea or nearby river. The volume of floral waste is significant enough to cause sea pollution, literally choking waterways near the temples.
In 2008, Rupa was inspired to do something about this waste. She, and her team of self-taught urban artisans, began collecting floral waste to use as dyestuffs from small nearby temples. Because dyeing is a water-based process, using flowers for dyeing satisfied the ritual requirement that these offerings return to water. Roses, Coconut husks, hibiscus flowers and the marigolds, blessed, then cast-off as waste, are full of dye potential and yielded the most beautiful prints and colors. Soon she realized she would need larger amounts of floral waste and by 2012 forged an official agreement with Siddhivinayak to collect around 40-80kgs per day. Our collection bags contain an assortment of marigolds, hibiscus, small quantities of rose and coconut husks offered at the temple.
Recently Adiv added floral blessings cast-off from Peer Haji Ali Dargah, an iconic Mosque in the middle of the sea in central Mumbai, to the dye materials used at the studio. The offerings collected there are mostly red roses that are interlaced with white lilies. The roses are picked up twice a week and the quantities vary between 30 to 50 kgs .
The precious blessings from all our sacred sources embody a universal sanctity; a sense of calming serenity and positive energy that translates onto the cloth with the dyeing. These beautiful blessings taken together truly add new meaning to our repertoire of breath-taking textiles.
“The magic begins when the flowers arrive the studio! The flowers are sorted into great carpets glowing yellow, red, and orange. Some flower petals are used immediately to get bright yellows and the rest are meticulously cleaned, plucked and left to shade dry till they are completely devoid of moisture. We then store them either as petals or in powder form.” -Rupa Trivedi
At the studio, the dyers prepare the collected flowers in various ways depending on the design. Petals are plucked and spread out onto large pieces of jute fabric, creating a brilliant carpet-like effect on the studio floor. For instance, marigold petals can be dried completely and powdered for storing to be used later or used fresh, thus creating solid yellow and bronze hues and eco prints.
While the flowers are drying, the cloth is carefully prepared to receive and hold the dye or printed textures. After scouring the cloth by hand with natural soap nuts, it is prepared for mordanting and treating it for optimal dye uptake. (We even grow our own soap nuts used in scouring.) Natural mordants are the fixers that facilitate the dye penetration the fibers of the cloth. Different flowers require different mordants. Alum is used to mordant marigolds, while rose petals use iron. At Adiv, all mordants are either food grade or ayurvedic medicinal quality in trace amounts. Water is purified and reused on site.
The synergy of science, poetry and love used to create the Temple Blessings textiles makes them so very special and so uniquely beautiful.
Teammates sorting blessed marigolds
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