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Mythology

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Shubho Mahalaya!  As a child growing up with Bengali grandparents, this day meant about waking up to the sound of a booming voice on the radio, narrating a story I couldn’t particularly understand; it also meant, a celebration was coming and that there would be lots of delicious food. As we inch closer to the 9 days of pure fun,  I find that strange connect with the Goddess brewing up again and that’s the most special thing about Durga -…

krishna art stories

In Pictures: 5 Amazing Krishna Stories from Art Museums

Krishna, the 8th incarnation of Vishnu has been the muse for artists across centuries. In celebrating his birthday, here are five Krishna stories from Art Museums across the world! I love the Balgopal versions of Krishna for a simple reason : it tells me God too, was once a kid.  No other deity has that connect with children (at the…

Annapurna : The Goddess of Food

From the collection of:  National Museum, New Delhi What is it: A brass sculpture of a goddess holding a ladle in the right hand and a jewelled bowl full of rice in her left hand. Her bowl of grain represents the food and nourishment she offers. The iconography of Annapurna is given in the Agamas as a youthful goddess of…

unesco

Mahabalipuram: The Varaha Cave Temple

Visiting the Mahabalipuram group of monuments, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was on my bucket list and I finally got to put a check against it.  The group of monuments have served as backdrop for classical dance videos, inspired some great photography and is a treat for archaeology enthusiasts. The monuments which were given the World Heritage Status as long back as 1984,…

Who’s Ramayana is it, anyway?

Having been brought up in a Bengali household, the run up to Durga Puja & Dussehra would always be full of Mahisasur-Mardini stories, and it is only on Diwali that I would revise the little I knew of Ramayana.  Working in the crafts space for 8 years now, I’ve seen how different episodes and Rama stories inspire artists not only across India, but various South-east asian countries. And then, the other night I went for my first Ram-Leela. The story was told slightly differently from the one I kne

Ganesha : The God of Beginnings

WHAT IS IT?   This sculpture of Ganesha, made of muscovite biotite schist  is believed to belong to the early 11th Century’s Pala Art School, and finds its origins in Bihar. “Pala” refers to the suffix in the name of rulers of the Pala Dynasty, which means, “protectors”. They were followers of Buddhism, and had a very strong hold in the Bengal and…

Nataraja : The Lord of Dance

WHAT IS IT? ‘The Nataraja’ is one of the most important, visually thrilling forms of the Hindu god Shiva. Artists in Tamil Nadu, India began to make this form of Shiva in the early tenth century, with the patronage of king inspired by poetry written by ardent devotees and using skills in metal craft developed over hundreds of years. Once made…

The Perfection of Wisdom

WHAT IS IT? Commissioned by a female devotee of Buddhism, this exquisitely painted palm leaf from the 10th century is part of the oldest dated and illustrated Sanskrit manuscript known worldwide. Written in an ornamental South Asian script known as Kuṭila, the palm leaf shows  Buddha, making the gesture of teaching, with disciples sitting either side. Although the manuscript is…

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