I like to keep my gifts simple and practical but I notice that there are too many creative ideas floating around for gifts and sometimes I need a user manual before I can start using them.
For example a cousin gave me this beautiful piece. A cute little thing which looked like a container for kumkum called a Kumkuma Chimizh in Tamil. (I love this word and hence the title of this post!!) In my opinion Ganesha's image is the cutest among the Hindu Pantheon and I loved the six mice around the central Ganesha with images of ganesha emobossed on their back.
Trouble began when I realised that the Ganesha in the middle was not welded and could actually be unscrewed to open the mice top to make this piece into something like this:
This was not an accident - so there was certainly a design idea. As everyone knows the 6th rule of commonsense is that if anything can be unscrewed, there is a purpose behind it. So now I had to find a purpose for what I had assumed to be an innocuous chimizh. So what was it?

Perhaps a portable Puja with a figurine of Ganesha and small sections to hold puja essentials like chandan, kumkum, haldi, flower and may be a little prasad like sugar crystals.I know people who like to carry prayer things while travelling.

And then you could close the box and lock it with the Ganesha and put it back in the luggage. (Might be very useful in case of hijacking - oops I am blaspheming.)

Or perhaps, you could use it as a total Puja Solution in today's context of small flats and if you'd like to keep your faith private. You could just have a niche in your room and have your god, Rangoli and lamp rolled in one in a hole in the wall, i mean, a niche in the wall. Voila, your pooja room personalised and ready for use!

As readers of this space know, I am a simple person and definitely no Sherlock Holmes or Edward de Bono. It looked pretty as a lamp and that is how I decided to use it.
Recently another cousin explained to me what its original intention was supposed to be and I was stunned.

Any guesses on what this artistic piece was used for among the royals of yore? The beautiful exterior was meant to distract attention from something sinister that it contained. If there was a war and if the conquering enemy advanced upto the royal household, they used the contents to die with honour! Yea, this was the equivalent of poison rings and cyanide amulets containing enough dosage for a family of six. ("one family pack please!" they must have said!!)
It is understandable considering the humiliation that awaited them if they were caught alive by the enemy.

29 Responses
  1. Altoid Says:

    First of all, love, love, love this Ganesha piece. As you can tell, I collect AND am given a lot of Ganesha pieces, though I have to admit some of the pieces I have found in my friends' houses have been so unique(like Ganesha and eli sitting on a see-saw) that I've been tempted to mandate that my gifts henceforth must be unique Ganesha pieces, like this one!

    Hm, I like the rangoli/diya interpretation, though I was wondering...could it be a mukhwaas box?

  2. Savani Says:

    like altoid.. that was my first guess..a box for pan stuff.. It looks beautiful as diya with rangoli. who woulda thunk the royals would use such a fancy box for something so horribly dark. i am glad i am an unroyal that lives in the 21st century :)

  3. Serendipity Says:


    We have the same chimizh at home! Emo , it was gifted to Amma by her colleagues. Usha , thought the deepam idea great! Will tell our PPP to try it out


  4. Unknown Says:

    The chimizh is very very cute. It does look very pretty with the 6 diyas lit. Nice gift to give someone.

  5. B o o Says:

    Thats one beautiful piece of work and a fantastic gift idea. Of course, I have to gift it to myself first! ;) Thanks Usha for the lovely post. (I love the word Kunguma chimizh too!)

  6. ~nm Says:

    Simply beautiful! Awesome! What a design idea! I loved how you used it to light lamps! Can you take one pic of with along with your hand so that we can know the exact size of this chimizh?

    I will definitely buy this whenever I can lay my hands upon it!

    P.S. I've added you on the blog links on my other blog

  7. The Ganesh piece is absolutely lovely... would you pls let me know where the wonderful piece may be available for purchase (gift myself) ... I would love to treasure it.

  8. dame's diary Says:

    I LOVE IT. Pictures look fabulous.
    Is that from Poompuhar? I want to buy one for my Amma :)

  9. Hip Grandma Says:

    What a reason to keep the chimzh.I could never have guessed it.Looks cute and would really serve all the purposes mentioned by you.Will work fine as deepams.

  10. Shruthi Says:

    Beautiful post... lovely pictures... and What a magnificent piece!

  11. Sunita Says:

    Loved the picture of it with colors and diyas ...Beautiful.

  12. What a LOVELY thing, and what a great gift! that last pic with the colours and the light is SO nice

    But the original use for it is not so nice. wonder why they used such a beautiful thing to store death in..?

  13. Artnavy Says:

    Wow a suicide pack that is so pretty

    i love your use of it and the pics are gorgeous

    can u ask ur cousin where she got it??

  14. I love collection small models of Ganeshas :)
    I loved the way you are using it. It looks beautiful.
    When I first saw the pice, I thought 'WoW! A post about Deepavali after the one on Dassera' :)
    I loved the pics. Are all the pics from your home?

  15. Shobana Says:

    I loved it as a lamp and of cours when I read the real use, it kind of made of sad, that someone would want to use this box with the Ganesha piece to guard the poison that would kill holding Ganesha as the sachi (proof) for their death. Sad!

  16. Choxbox Says:

    lovely post and it looks biyootiful as rangoli+diya.

  17. WhatsInAName Says:

    Wow, Usha... thats an amazing gift.
    Where did your cousin buy it from any idea?

  18. WhatsInAName Says:

    BTW, happy Deepavali. May the festival of lights, light up your whole year!

  19. Usha Says:

    Hi all,
    I agree is a beautiful piece to own and to gift. It was bought in chandini arts emporium ( they specialise in images of ganeshas) on M.G.Road (utility building) Bangalore.

    Nm, This is a small piece - 3 inches diameter but I am going there this week to check if they have it in bigger sizes too.

    I think in olden days, the image of God and all that work on the outside was intended to distract attention from its contents. Perhaps they needed it also to give them courage in case they had to use the contents?

    Seren, did the ppp like the idea? In fact it can also be used to store pills - may be the ppp will like this idea better?

    COS, the pics are from my house.

    I think I should pick up a few of them to gift you people when we meet!

  20. Unknown Says:

    LOvely lovely variations ! I have a similar piece which I use for decorative purposes only, picked up from Kochi. Saw a similar piece yesterday at SMS Trivandrum yesterday which measured a cool 10"- must have been meant for the whole clan!

  21. dipali Says:

    Lovely post. lovely pics!

  22. and now I have to own that beautiful piece and i would go with it as a lamp too...but who would've imagined such a morbid association??

  23. Pillpopper Says:
    This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. Pillpopper Says:
    This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. Pillpopper Says:

    Et tu Brute!!!(sob)
    But I did take your advice!

  26. Usha Says:

    Eve: 10" huh -wholesale supply!

    Dipali:Welcome back.

    Orchid: Next time you are home, I will have one waiting for you.

    The PPP: heheh...sorreee, could not resist that. But they do look lovely inside the chimizh - homeopathy stuff?

  27. Mahadevan Says:

    'Kumkuma Chimiz" - exquisite - I mean the beautiful one presented to you and the piece of writing about it.

  28. Anonymous Says:

    elegant and artful.

  29. Usha Says:

    Mahadevan: Thanks

    Maami:welcome. Thanks.