Love, Paati

Nethra Gomatheswaran

Love, Paati (translates to Love, Grandma from Tamil) is a collection of beauty and wellness rituals curated from plants, spices, and other natural ingredients that have been practiced in South India for several generations. A majority of these rituals have not been documented or passed down. In an attempt to preserve what’s left of this knowledge, I interviewed people from various regions around South India, documenting rituals, stories and experiences.

In a city, as cosmopolitan as New York, we see several new trends and new natural ways of living. But what a lot of people that I interviewed didn’t know was that several of these natural discoveries that people now stumble upon have been practiced by cultures for several centuries. These ‘trends’ have been westernized, the origin stories and the authenticity of these natural beauty and health rituals have been lost in the new narrative.

Growing up in South India, and seeing older people of previous generations frequently use plants and spices for their daily health and beauty routine made me curious about the immense world of knowledge that our generation is unaware of.

Living in New York and seeing Indian practices celebrated, but not for its authenticity and Indian-ness has motivated me to document these raw, rich, and detailed rituals and stories.

An example of such trends are turmeric lattes. In India, it is consumed by all kinds of households and does not bear the tag of added vanilla extract, and the luxurious indulgence that we now see around us. Eliminated with these authentic practices and origin stories, are also tales of places and people, who practice several of these rituals, and continue to preserve this legacy.

Seeing such Indian rituals receiving a makeover to be a new trend that businesses can capitalize on, is heartbreaking.

Why should someone who has very limited knowledge of these stories and rituals, control the narrative?

Why should the origins and the stories of people and the culture that come with the ‘the next new superfood’ be eliminated?

My goal had never been clearer to me:
To go to the very source of these natural Indian rituals and practices: people who still practice natural ways of living to this day; talk to them, and document the wealth of knowledge they possess in the truest form. I do want to preserve this legacy and create a platform where this knowledge can live on forever.

Nethra Gomatheswaran creates work within the realms of culture and diversity.
Nethra Gomatheswaran creates work within the realms of culture and diversity.
Thesis Faculty
Mattie Brice
Andrew Zornoza
Chris Romero
Ethan Silverman
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