Thiruvananthapuram: Lakhs of bricks, used by devotees to prepare ‘pongala’ offering at the Attukal Devi Temple fest here, will be re-used this year for making art installations to commemorate a legendary British-born architect, who pioneered low-cost housing in the country.
One of the world’s largest all-women religious events, “Attukal Pongala” witnesses congregation of lakhs of women to the city preparing the offering to the Goddess on the streets.
The bricks, abandoned by devotees on the waysides after the ritual, will be collected and transformed into series of art installations as a tribute to the master architect, late Laurie Baker whose 100th birth anniversary falls on 2 March, the ‘Pongala day’ this year.
They will later be used for social housing schemes, the officials of Indian Institute of Architects (IIA)’s Thiruvananthapuram centre, the organisers of the programme, said.
Popularly known as the ‘poor man’s architect’, Baker, who made Kerala his home for many decades, had devoted himself to popularising low-cost housing across the country.
Baker, who was granted Indian citizenship in 1990 and honoured with Padmashree the same year, passed away at the age of 90 at his residence here on 1 April 2007 following age-related ailments.
A group of architects, artists, designers and firms from across the country, under the aegis of IIA, are joining hands with the City Corporation to create 100 installations here on 3 March to mark Baker’s birth centenary.
The initiative, titled ‘Beyond Bricks’, is envisaged as a mass movement and awareness campaign with a concept of reuse and recycle, as professed by Baker, an architect said.
“We are planning to have 100 installations of bricks across various parts of the capital city, most probably at the Palayam Manaveeyam Veedhi stretch,” Jayakrishnan, programme convenor, said.
“As it is not possible to collect every single brick abandoned in the city, we will collect and reuse a sizeable number and use them for the installation and later for the housing schemes,” he said.
The IIA has joined hands with the City Corporation, various government agencies and academic institutions to make ‘Beyond Bricks’ a reality.
“Architects and artists, who admire Baker’s concept and philosophy, are expected to take part in the programme.
The response we have got from across the country is overwhelming,” he said.
The installations would be kept for public viewing until 5 March, and would later be dismantled to be reused for public housing for poor in the city, Jayakrishnan added.
‘Beyond Bricks’ is planned as a prelude to the grand Laurie Baker Birth Centenary Celebrations planned in the state later, IIA officials said.
During the Attukal Pongala day, women from various parts of the state and outside prepare ‘pongala’ (a mix of rice, jaggery and coconut) in fresh earthen or metal pots as an offering to Attukal Devi, the presiding deity of the temple, in makeshift brick stoves.
The ritual is performed by lining up on either side of the roads in the city and its suburbs.
The line is sometimes seven km long.
‘Pongala’, which is observed in February-March every year, has found a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as “the largest gathering of women” based on the 2.5 million turnouts in 2009.