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Monthly Archives: January 2015

  • The Significance of Deepam during Prayers in India

    Oil lamps were a part of various traditions and cultures around the world, until electric lights became popular. The earliest known oil lamp can be dated back to the Chalcolithic Age, about 4500 to 3300 BC. Today, their use is limited to only a few homes, more often only for visual appeal. But there is a lot more to the humble oil lamp, than its obvious use of providing light and aesthetics.

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    Light is significant to us because of how our eyesight works. Had our vision been like any other animal, light wouldn’t be so significant to us. Historically, the lamp was an essential part of our homes because of two reasons. One, there were no electric lights. Two, homes were built from organic materials so people couldn’t afford to open up huge windows.

    In India, It is also believed that an oil lamp is lit to bow down to knowledge as the greatest of all forms. The oil or ghee in the lamp symbolizes the vices and the cotton wick, the ego. When lit by spiritual knowledge, the vices get slowly exhausted and the ego too perishes. The flame of a lamp always burns upwards and similarly one should acquire such knowledge as to take us towards higher ideals.

    Light symbolizes the absence of darkness, grief & unhappiness. Hence, it’s a deep rooted Indian tradition to light a lamp first before starting any auspicious event or ritual. Light also symbolizes knowledge. Which is why in almost all inaugural functions we light the Kuthu vilakku (vilakku meaning ‘deepam’ or ‘lamp’), a type of oil lamp with 5 to 9 spouts, symbolizing Knowledge removing ignorance as light removes darkness.

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    Oil lamps were the source of light in the absence of candles before the invention of electrical lights. It is rather a customary practice to light the deepam twice,
    both in the morning and evening. Normally, it is lit in the pooja or prayer room
    before the deity. In fact, our daily worship has to start with the lighting of
    the oil lamp. It has a great spiritual significance besides intellectual one too. This is again because Deepam signifies knowledge. With this knowledge, ignorance or darkness in us is dispelled and the fear is driven out.

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    The lamps we light every day are different from the ones we light on auspicious days. While Kuthu Vilakku is lit to signify the beginning of any event or occasion. It signifies the three Gods Bramha, Vishnu and Shiva who are believed to be present in the Vilakku. At the base part is Bramha, the middle part Vishnu and the broad part on top is Shiva. The glow of the vilakku is represented as Goddess Lakshmi,the Light by Goddess Saraswati and the Heat by Goddess Parvati. The five petals or nozzles are said to represent the five elements of Nature — earth, water, fire, air and sky or space.12

    During Kaarthigai Deepam, Rows of Agal vilakkus (Clay Oil lamps) are lit in every house. Karthigai is essentially a festival of lamps. The lighted lamp is considered an auspicious symbol. It is believed to ward off evil forces and usher in prosperity and joy. While the lighted lamp is important for all Hindu rituals and festivals, it is indispensable for Karthigai.

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    In Telugu households, Kaartheeka maasam (month) is considered very auspicious. The Kartheeka month starts on the day of Deepawali. From that day till the end of the month, oil lamps are lit every day. On Kartheeka Pournami (full moon of Kartheeka month) oil lamp with 365 wicks, prepared at home, are lit in Lord Shiva temples.

    For everyday prayers, one may light a Kamakshi Amman vilakku or Ashtalakshmi Vilakku, depending on the main deity of the household. There are various kinds of such vilakku with one spout and the deity is seated as the center motif. These lamps are said to bring in the presence of god in the form of light along with prosperity.

  • 5 Products For An Ethnic Household

    Unlike a traditional home, an ethnic home is where culture and tradition comes together with the modern twist. A splash of tradition here and there arranged in a stylish way can give your home a very ethnic look. Some of the items that can act as the splash of tradition can be in the form of:

    Wooden Furnishings

    Nothing says classy and ethnic like wooden furnishings do. Not only do they give a natural yet gorgeous look, they are also strong and resilient. Wooden furniture is also easy to maintain, weather resistant and, unlike plastic, is not damaging to the environment. If you have the space, you can choose big bold furnishings but otherwise there are small pieces of furnishings such as tea tables and side tables to add the splash of ethnicity you are looking for.

    Wooden Furnishings

    Shop for this at http://tnpoompuhar.org/tamil-nadu/wood/round-table/round-table.html

    Uruli

    These are large circular pots usually made of brass traditionally used for cooking in southern parts of India for large groups of people, and now come in terracotta also. They are now used as decorative pieces where flowers and lamps are arranged. They help give a sweet smell to your home and light your home in a beautifully divine manner. Fill an Uruli with water and let some beautiful flowers and scented candles float in them to make your home aromatic and elegant.

    Tanjore Paintings

    Tanjore painting is a classic south Indian style of painting that originates from the town of Thanjavur. The paintings are made on wood or cloth canvases and are adorned with precious or semi-precious stones and 22 carat gold foils to add color and uniqueness to the painting. They usually depict Hindu gods and goddesses. This kind of painting is highly durable and lasts for generations. Adding these paintings to your walls can add a very beautiful yet classic touch to your home.

    Tanjore Paintings

    Shop for this at http://tnpoompuhar.org/tamil-nadu/thanjavur-paintings/perumal/thanjavur-painting-butter-perumal.html

    Stone Sculptures

    Stone sculptures are yet another way to add zing to your spaces. Their sheer simple intricacy adds an allure to where ever they are placed. These sculptures in large sizes can be placed in your garden surrounded by plants or in a fountain or water baths. Smaller sized sculptures of deities can be places in the pooja altar, or even as a center piece in an Uruli filled with water and lamps. Other stone sculptures can also be placed as decorative pieces around the home to make it ethnically stylish from inside out.

    Stone Sculptures

    Shop for this at http://tnpoompuhar.org/tamil-nadu/stone/granite-stone/stone-karumari.html

    Brass Utensils

    Traditionally water was always stored in brass utensils and even food was served in brass utensils. This was because brass is made of an alloy of zinc and copper that had wonderful properties that are greatly beneficial to our health. Food and water was stored and served in them so that they will absorb some of the brass while we consume them. Brass utensils are not only long-lasting and classy, they are a simple way to take care of your health with an exercise as simple as storing water. Serve your guests water in a Brass Sombu or Brass tumblers and food in brass plates. Not only will they look unique but they also make your food healthier to consume.

    There you go! A couple of affordable classic items to add an ethnic touch to your home that you can get your hands on quite easily.

     Brass Utensils

    Shop for this at http://tnpoompuhar.org/tamil-nadu/brass/brass-plain-plate/plain-plate-antique-finish.html

  • Places to see in Thanjavur

    Considered as the ‘rice bowl’ of Tamil Nadu, Thanjavur has many tourist spots. Its name is derived from‘Tanjan’, the legendary asura (demons in Hindu mythology). There are many Hindu (a religion in India) festivals that happen in the place. The place has its share of monuments as well as religious places of historical importance .Since it has so many tourist attractions, it is considered as an important center for art , religion , architecture and literature . Thanjavur is famous for Thanjavur paintings. The popular Thanjavur dancing doll can be bought  here for those who have often seen it in other homes and have always wished to buy it. Thanjavur is also famous for handicrafts.

    Let’s see the famous tourist attractions in Thanjavur.

    Brihadeeswara temple

    Remember this temple from your history books in school?Built by Rajaraja Chola, this temple is a world heritage site. It is a temple of Lord Shiva and was constructed in the 11th century. It is one of the best architectural sites and also enjoys the status of being a part of UNESCO World heritage site.

    Brihadeeswara temple Image Credit - commons.wikimedia.org

    The Thanjavur Palace           

    Built by the Nayaks and Marathas, this place is a massive space with huge corridors, beautiful and royal design, and observation towers and there is an art gallery in the Nayak hall which has the best collection of artifacts from the eighth and ninth centuries.The Maratha royal family lives there and there is a temple in the palace which belongs to the family.

    Thanjavur Palace Image Credit - commons.wikimedia.org

    Grand Anicut                                                                

    Built across the Kaveri River in Thanjavur district, it was constructed by a Chola king, Karikalan. Built in the first century AD, it is one of the oldest dams of the world. The purpose of the dam is to divert the waters for irrigational uses. A visit to this place makes you understand the early engineering efforts put in by people of those times.

    Grand Anicut Image Credit - commons.wikimedia.org

    Saraswati Mahal library

    This medieval library is open on all days. It is one of the oldest libraries of Asia and has a rare collection of antiques and manuscripts .Only after the year 1918; was it converted into a public library. There is also a sales section where books are available for purchase.

    Saraswati Mahal library Image Credit - commons.wikimedia.org

    Sangeetha Mahal

    It is a hall of music located in Thanjavur and a place that must be on your travel list. Located in the Thanjavur palace on the first floor, it was actually used as a place where people used to perform arts and dance. Also, they have a handicraft gallery made by the Indian artisans. Considered as acoustically perfect and a great example of engineering then, this place is sure to leave you awestruck with the amalgamation of art and engineering it has on display.

    Schwartz Church

    The famous church is a plain building and is a marble structure .It was constructed in the memory of Frederick Christian, a Danish missionary. The highlight of the church is that it has a depiction of the last moments of the Danish missionary with the king Raja Serfoji. It is open on all days and has an English discourse on Sunday at 7.00 am.

    Poompuhar  has an outlet in Thanjavur on Gandhiji road where you can find the most exquisite range of handicrafts from all over India .

    Ready to set out on a history cum shopping trip?

    Schwartz Church Image Credit - commons.wikimedia.org
  • A sneak peek into the lives of Indian artisans

    India is a country with varied art forms and cultures. Our artisans are the core of our artistic history and have been so since the early days. Sometimes, we fail to understand that every artistic expression needs appreciation. It therefore gets difficult for the artisans of our country to relish the outcomes of their hard work and efforts. To understand the artisans of our country and the life that they have, we have to keep in mind the following things.

    What do they do?

    Remember that  beautiful box of diyas you bought last Diwali? Those artistically worked ones, complete with colourful paint and sparkling stones? Yes, that was the result of time and work put in by our very own Indian Artisan,working silently behind the scenes without any expectations for recognition. Not just diyas; what about idols, paintings, weaves, bamboo baskets, wood carvings and the endless list of handicraft products we buy every festive season? These are all the fruits of the hard work put in by our artisans. Every handcrafted product that you opt for is your direct contribution towards our artisan community.

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    What is their plight?        

    The craftsmen community of India is one which is under threat. The talent of Indian artisans have been facing the threat of becoming extinct and their role in the market is more than underplayed. Their survival rate is marked by the importance we give to their products and crafts. Without any surprise, because of middlemen in their trade, they do not get the attention they require.

    How are they encouraged at Poompuhar?

    At Poompuhar, we always aim at providing quality lifestyle to the artisan community of the state and the country. The artisans are encouraged by various awards like the Poompuhar state award, the Poompuhar district award, etc. We also impart training sessions to the artisan community, thus helping them overcome the problem of quality and production. Several exhibitions are also conducted frequently to expose the artisans to the customers directly thereby breaking the role of middlemen. We also provide them financial aids for the betterment of their society and livelihood. With the help of e-commerce, the artisans get better exposure to the feedback and appreciation from their buyers. This helps them improve their craft and also encourages them to perform better. Thus we try and encourage them as much as we can and in every way possible.

    A farmer depends on the rain for his produce to be harvested. Likewise, an artisan banks entirely on the appreciation and encouragement he gets from his buyers. It is therefore very essential for us to be more appreciative of indigenous products Instead of spending lakhs of rupees in shipping a product from overseas; we should opt for more Desi crafts and be as a source of inspiration for our hardworking artisans.

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  • What We Sell at Poompuhar

    When people think of Poompuhar, what immediately comes to their mind are the beautifully made Indian handicrafts that are loved by both Indians and foreigners alike. By Indians, because these handicrafts are small pieces of India’s rich cultural and religious heritage; and by foreigners because they are so intrigued by the intricacy and richness of these artistic products. Poompuhar is one of the few organizations that work with a genuine, bifocal aim - to promote the Indian culture and the work of artisans.

    With this aim in mind, we train and nurture our artisans to produce a variety of creative products to suit the tastes of different kinds of audience.Our products are manufactured in production centers owned by the Tamil Nadu Development Corporation. Here’s a look at what we sell:

    • Bronze items

    Our bronze items come in two finishes, i.e. antique and polish. Both are mostly statues of different gods and goddesses which make for high quality attractive gifting items.

    Bronze items

    Shop for this Kalingakrishna Antique Finish online at http://tnpoompuhar.org/tamil-nadu/bronze/antique-finish/kalingakrishna-antique-finish.html

    • Wood Carvings

    Our exquisite range of woodcarvings are good to add that ethnic feel to your living room. From wooden panels to brackets and statues, these wooden items come in very innovative and intricate designs mostly with gods and goddesses as themes.

    Wood Carvings

    Shop for this Woodcarving Panel 3  at http://tnpoompuhar.org/tamil-nadu/wood-carvings/woodcarving-panels/woodcarving-panel3.html

    • Thanjavur paintings

    This ancient art from south India, which originated in Thanjavur is one of the best gifting ideas, as well as for decorating your own house. Most of these paintings have a central god or goddess as a figure which is embellished with gems, glittering gold foils etc.

    Thanjavur paintings

    Shop for this Thanjavur Painting Karpaga Ganesh at http://tnpoompuhar.org/tamil-nadu/thanjavur-paintings/ganesh/thanjavur-painting-karpaga-ganesh.html

    • Brass items

    Our extensive variety makes brass lamps as one of our most loved products. Besides lamps such asdeepam, hanging lamps and agal, other products such as cows, nataraja, peacock, ganesha, etc exude class in brass.

    Brass Cow

    Shop for this Cow With Calf Antique Finish at http://tnpoompuhar.org/tamil-nadu/brass/brass-cow/cow-with-calf-antique-finish.html

    • Stone work and Woodwork

    Stone work is usually done in granite, soap or red stone with embellishments in white colour. Wooden handicraft items include lions, horses, elephants, Ashoka pillar and Buddha.

    elephants

    Shop for this Granite Stone Elephant at http://tnpoompuhar.org/tamil-nadu/stone/granite-stone/granite-stone-elephant.html

    Woodwork

    Shop for this Wooden Ashoka pillar online at http://tnpoompuhar.org/tamil-nadu/wood/ashoka-pillar/wooden-ashoka-pillar.html

    • Pithwork

    Made from glass and stuck to a wooden base,this handicraft product usually has monuments and chariots as designs.Our pithwork products are miniatures showcasing popular facets of the Indian culture. These include the TajMahal, Kerala boats, Perumal temple, Thanjavur Temple and many others.

    Pithwork

  • Vandalur Sales Outlet – The Opening

    Creativity gets a new address! Proud to announce the opening of our new sales outlet in Vandalur zoo. The opening ceremony was held in the esteemed presence of IFS K.S.S.V.P. Reddy, the Director of Vandalur zoo on 21 Jan, 2015.

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  • What makes Poompuhar unique

    Poompuhar is a unique handicrafts store because of the efforts it’s taken to expand the business and since it plays a significant role in the Indian handicrafts industry. The major reason why it is a unique organization is because it helps the artisan community to make its living and achieve a better standard of living by means of rewards and recognitions. The artisans here are very hardworking and deal with all products listed in the site or available in the store. It’s because of their dedication that Poompuhar gives them a sense of financial security by giving them the profits they need and by minimizing intermediaries in the trade. Artisans who are excellent in their skill are also given different kind of awards for their contribution to the Indian handicraft industry. These awards are cash vouchers from rupees 5000 to 100000 lakhs and 8 grams of gold.

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    The training imparted to the artisans is totally free and these sessions are imparted based on the nature of their work . Artisans also are taught how to market their products and take part in exhibitions that happen in the country and abroad. The exhibitions have been increasing and the reach has also been increasing now since the customers can  view online ,the kind of products we make  .Our foray into the online space via Facebook, Instagaram , Pinterest, Twitter ,Google + Youtube and our own website has furthered our goal of expanding the markets for our well deserving Indian artisans .With six manufacturing centres and special orders for religious purposes/temple projects like chariots ,vahanas and many more , the progess made in the last few years is commendable. Since Poompuhar has a solid vision to reach out to the world by means of handicrafts, its good work is here to stay.

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    We forgot to mention the 3A’s that Poompuhar has to its credit. Our products are authentic, affordable and attractive. These are carefully handcrafted, designed and marketed for the customer. What sets us apart is the fact that we are the only organization that is a part of TNDC.The organization also encourages new designs from artisans and is the only organization that is a part of TNDC, which is the only company that has its own production centers for manufacturing the crafts by Tamil Nadu. A well –established manufacturing system ensures smooth logistics and inventory system – a reason for our steady progress.

  • Interesting facts about Thanjavur Paintings

    Thanjavur Painting known in Tamil as “Thanjavur Oviyam” is a classical South Indian painting style, which had its origins in the town of Thanjavur, anglicized as Tanjore, since then this classical style of painting has spread geographically across Tamil Nadu over several centuries now. The paintings are known for their rich heritage, this intricate form of art comprises chiefly of Hindu deities and draws its inspiration from way back to 1600 AD during the Nayakas of Vijayanagar dynasty.

    Thanjavur Painting Yasodha Krishna shop online poompuhar

    Shop for this Thanjavur Painting of Yasodha Krishna online at http://tnpoompuhar.org/tamil-nadu/thanjavur-paintings/thanjavur-painting-yasodha-krishna.html

    Here are some interesting facts about Thanjavur Paintings.

    -Thanjavur paintings are comprised of rich, flat and vibrant colors, simple iconic composition, glittering gold foils overlaid on delicate but extensive gesso work and inlay of glass beads and pieces or sometimes precious and semi-precious gems.

    -The paintings are a beautiful combination of various dynasties and cultures, the influences of Deccan, Vijayanagar, Maratha and even European style of paintings can be seen in Thanjavur paintings.

    -Thanjavur Paintings always have a story to tell, they predominantly portray Hindu gods, goddesses and saints. Episodes taken from Hindu Puranas, Sthala-puranas and other religious texts were visually interpreted, sketched or traced and painted with the main deity or saint placed in the central section of the picture, and surrounded by several other supplementary figures, themes and subjects.

    -There are also many instances where Jain, Sikh, Muslim, and other religious and even secular subjects were depicted in Thanjavur paintings.

    -Thanjavur paintings are referred to as “palagaipadam” where palagai means “wooden plank” and padam means “picture” hence they are panel paintings done on wooden planks.

    -In today’s times, these paintings have become souvenirs for festive celebrations in South India, they have also become colourful artefacts to adorn walls. They continue to remain as a collectors’ item for all the art lovers.

    -The art continues to be sacred and is deeply rooted in traditions and is innovative within limits; these paintings truly add beauty and culture to a variety of surrounding and decor.

    -Thanjavur paintings not only have prominence in India, but also have their stand internationally,  the British and Victorial & Albert museums in England house a large collection of Thanjavur paintings and the National Museum of Copenhagen also houses a fine collection of Thanjavur paintings.

    -Truly crafted with meticulous care, Thanjavur paintings are unique, what certainly sets them apart from other Indian paintings are the embellishments made over the simple drawings with precious and semi-precious stones.

    -Painters generally give a three dimensional effect to the pictures they paint, such paintings appear in various sizes ranging from huge works spanning an entire wall to miniatures no longer than 6-inches square.

    -Before panels or even plywood were used, the bark of the jackfruit tree was used as the canvas for the paintings, today the most commonly used type of wood is plywood on which a paste of limestone is applied then bound and let to dry.

    -Traditionally diamonds and rubies were used, they however are now replaced with semi-precious or glass stones. Similarly, vegetable dyes have now been replaced by chemical paints.

    However, today there are still a large number of Thanjavur painters who stick to the traditional methods of paintings which preserves its antiqueness.

    They say that the world’s first language is art, Thanjavur paintings are a magnificently beautiful form of painting unique in their own way. For centuries this rich form of art has brought to life a vibrant and cultural heritage.

  • Handicrafts of India

    In this age of mass production and abundance, handicrafts have stood the test of time and are a reason to celebrate the uniqueness of our culture and traditions. Indians, dating back to the early ages of civilizations, have developed handicrafts as a means of living. These handmade products are unique in their own style and every hand crafted product tells a story in a language of its own. Regional Handicrafts were developed using the materials available in that area using styles corresponding to their way of life. The hand crafted diyas from Tamil Nadu are very different from those made in Uttar Pradesh. Handicrafts are a part of our evolution and have molded and shaped our country’s rich cultural heritage.

    Weaves

    The exquisite art of weaving that differs from state to state is a story spoken without words. The Phulkari of the Punjab or the Chanderi of Madhya Pradesh or the Kota weaving style born in Rajasthan are all examples of handlooms spawned by the people of that region.

    Wood Carvings

    The well-known walnut-wood carvings of Kashmir, the Puri wooden masks, the intricately carved doors and windows of Himachal Pradesh, Mysore’s carved rosewood, the Miraj musical instruments of Maharashtra… every region has developed its own unique style of carvings adding on to the long list of exquisite wooden handicrafts.

    wooden horsebracket shopping online Wooden Horse Bracket

    You can shop this wooden horse bracket online at http://tnpoompuhar.org/tamil-nadu/wood-carvings/woodcarving-bracket/horse-bracket.html

    Metal crafts

    Brass sculptures, bronze artifacts, copper wares, designed silver wares… India is one among the largest manufacturers of intricately designed metal crafts. The dark and beautiful bidriwares unparalleled in their richness or the chamleveenamel patterns of Lucknow and Varanasi are treasures known only to the Indians.

    lord krishna statue online shopping Venugopal (Lord Krishna) Antique Finish

    You can shop this Venugopal(Lord Krishna) Antique Finish online at http://tnpoompuhar.org/tamil-nadu/bronze/antique-finish/venugopal-antique-finish.html

    Pottery

    The famous blue pottery of Jaipur or the majestic terracotta horses or the beautiful dancing dolls of Tanjore or even the unique papier-mâché artifacts of Kashmir; India has come a long way in its pottery styles.

    Paintings

    These coloured stories frozen on canvases or on scrolls or even on walls and vases are artistic expressions synonymous to the lives of the people belonging to a particular region. The royal Tanjore paintings of Tamil Nadu, the magnificent Mughal paintings, the pattachitra styles of Odisha or the Rajputana legacies; these paintings come in varied hues and styles emphasized only by the strokes and materials used to create them.

    tanjore paintings perumal online shopping india Thanjavur Painting Perumal

    You can shop this Thanjavur Painting
    (Perumal) online at http://tnpoompuhar.org/tamil-nadu/thanjavur-paintings/perumal/thanjavur-painting-butter-perumal.html

    Jewelry

    Jewelry in India has a deep emotional connect and the styles used in making them speaks volumes about the royal legacies and fashion statements. Tarkashi style inspired from the Greek and patronized by the Kashmiris, Meenakari work inspired by the Mughals, Kundan and Jadau jewelry patronized by the Rajputs, Thewa crafts practiced in Chittor, or the very beautiful Vadaseri style of South India famously known as temple jewelry are all exquisite arts in jewelry making.

    Stone Carvings

    Agra’s marble carvings or the beautifully sculpted granites of South India are examples of spectacular handiwork of Indian sculptors. Right from huge life-like sculptures to small, palm sized idols are available in different stones. Stone carved plates, boxes, lamps… you’d be amazed by the number of things that could be carved out of stone.

    Granite Stone Elephant shop online Granite Stone Elephant

    You can shop this Granite Stone Elephant online at http://tnpoompuhar.org/tamil-nadu/stone/granite-stone/granite-stone-elephant.html

     

    Right from ancient times, Indians have developed unique art forms and these valuable crafts have been our rich legacy unrivalled in its uniqueness and peerless in its beauty. A handicraft product is not just and art form but a part of the person making it. It is time we embrace this royal history of ours and patronize hand-crafted products much to the delight of our mute yet gracefully expressive artisans.

  • Pineapple Fibre Embroidery Training, Kanyakumari

    A three-month training in Pineapple Fibre embroidery for 20 women at Punnaiyadi, Kanyakumari began on 30th December, 2014 with state awardee Ms. Thangajothi as the instructor. Visit poompuhar.org to read more about our initiatives and to buy products online.

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