Thursday, 31 December 2009

Annapurna Maa

Annapurna GoddessTitle: Annapurna Goddess feeding Shiva
Size: 25 cm x 40 cm
Medium: Acrylic paints
Mount: Pre-stretched gallery wrapped canvas
(Commissioned piece)

Anna means 'food' in Sanskrit, and purna means 'filled completely'.
Annapurna is a Hindu goddess of food and nourishment.
Maa Annapurna is traditionally depicted as below,
giving out rice to Lord Shiva who is shown with a alms bowl.
Read the mythological backdrop to this rendition here.
Here is the calender-art style depiction of baby Shiva
Archana, who had commissioned the ''Lalita Sundari'' painting,
wanted me to render this one for her sister, who is named after the Goddess.
She wanted this composition to be along the lines of the 'Lalita Sundari',
therefore, Lord Shiva as a baby on the Goddess's lap, she feeding her.
Click to see the sketch that we had before I started the painting.

Thank you!
***These are some beautiful snaps of Archana with my paintings,
this was when she had moved to her new apartment***

Here are some close-ups for details:

The rice-grain hangings from the wall behind have a little story.
I remember this one time, I was probably in school then
and we were in our ancestral home near Kolkata.
Our gardener Insaan had come back to join work after a holiday in his village.
He brought with him this beautiful one-of-a-kind wall hanging for us
that his mother had hand-crafted from inspiration for the design.
It still hangs in my mom's kitchen in that house, and Insaan,
still lives in that house and tends to our rose-garden there.
This will be my last painting of 2009.
As an artist and entrepreneur, it has been a very interesting year for me, full of surprises.
...Quite a bit of learning, evolving as an artist, understanding the medium better.....
what is precious is the interaction I have had with you all.
For all the lovely emails that I received,
all the paintings and prints that you have collected,
all the support and love....and approval ....thank you !
I hope that the next year will be even more interesting for us and for Deezden,
here is wishing you all, my friends, a great 2010!!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Commissioned artwork

Title: ''Maa-meye'' (Mother-daughter in Bengali)
Size: 30 cm x 50 cm
Medium: Acrylic on pre-stretched gallery wrapped canvas
Finished with a mix of matte and brilliant acrylic varnish.

The text in Bengali says:
''মধুর আমার মায়ের হাসি চাঁদের মুখে ঝরে''
(Madhur amar mayer hashi chander mukhe jhore)
(Transliteration: My mother's smile, sweet like honey,
drips from her face as radiant the moon)
I have used brilliant varnish only on the text and the jewels so that
the rest of the painting has this matt effect, letting these elements stand out .

This was the photo that was sent to me from the Collector, Arnab,
of his beautiful wife Sunita and their lovely daughter, the reference for my composition.

This is how my mom used to tie my hair when I was a little girl,
with a generous dose of warmed coconut oil (which is considered to be the age-old-Indian-secret-potion to long-healthy-shiny hair)!!!
The hair-do is called a ''kala-binuni'' (binuni in Bengali means plait)
and very popular even today (more in towns and villages)
for little girls in many parts of Bengal.
I thought this goes beautifully with our folk theme.
Arnab had a suggestion and asked me,
during the conceptualization of this portrait, the possibility of adding
a "....half-open red lotus with stem in the mother's hand...''
as ''....the symbol of love, protection, purity & fertility/eternity...."
The parrot in the background was also something he had proposed initially.
Both, I was happy to add.

Bengali elements in this portrait:
White saree with a red border worn in the traditional drape
(a bunch of household keys were tied in a knot at the end of the saree
behind the left-shoulder), the bangles,
the red 'bindi', the style of the blouse with lace border,
text taken from a very popular Bengali poem,
the hair-accessories seen from behind the mom's chignon and of course the little girl's hair-do,
the ''Tiya'' or parrot on a bird-perch is also a favourite Bengali household pet.

Friday, 11 December 2009

A BIG thank you from my mom for your wonderful wishes,
this Sufi song is for you guys!
**new painting soon**

Monday, 16 November 2009

For you Maa......

Sketches for the two commissions that I am working on now......Maa-meye (mother-daughter)
''Maa-meye'' (which in Bengali means Mother -daughter)
Mixed media on paper, 30cm x 50cm

Here is a close-up of little birdie:

The second sketch is also a mother-child portrait:
Maa Annapura
Goddess Annapurna feeding rice to baby Shiva,
Mixed media on paper, 28cm x 42cm.
These two sketches are *not for sale*,
they will stay with moi in my home-studio :)

It is my mom's birthday today:)
I wish I could fly back to her to plant this kiss in person,
she will have to make do with this for now

Here is one of my favourite photos of her, just for my readers :)!!
This was taken by Baba (dad) on their honey-moon, on a Shikara in Kashmir.

Love you Maa
Happy birthday!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Maa Lokkhi with Owl

Title: Maa Lokkhi , commissioned piece
(Bengali school rendition of the Goddess of Wealth Maa Lakshmi)
Size: 35 cm x 45 cm
Medium: Acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas
Varnished, signed and dated

The jewellery and crown is rendered along the lines of traditional temple jewellery.

The owl comes back as the vahana as I did this for a Bengali collector.

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This was the photo of an antique basara pearl nose ring
that I used as reference for painting the Goddess's ornament.
I found this beautiful piece here.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Friday, 30 October 2009

Sketching for a commission,
Annapurna Maa (Hindu Goddess of nourishment) feeding baby Shiva.

Monday, 26 October 2009

We had a great weekend, hope you did too.
Will be back with a new painting soon.
Thank you all for the lovely Diwali wishes.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Happy Diwali
Wishing you all a very happy diwali
and a prosperous year ahead!

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Kolkata through Pujas

Video source: Anandautsav

Mahalaya : The video starts with ''Mahalaya'' by Birendra Krishna Bhadra .
All of Kolkata wakes up to this radio broadcast and, henceforth,
begins the traditional six day countdown to the puja celebrations!
''On the dawn of Mahalaya, homes in Bengal resonate with
the immortal verses of the Chandipath (chanting from "Chandi").
Chanting of the hymns from the holy book of "Chandi" in the recorded voice
of late Birendra Krishna Bhadra over radio
has become synonymous to the real Chandipath.
The Chandipath is aired by All India Radio in the programme
''Mahisasura Mardini'' (the annihilator of the demon Mahishasura),
narrating the incarnation of Goddess Durga and her fight with Mahishasura.
Since the early 1930s, Mahalaya has come to associate itself with this early morning radio program, a beautiful audio montage of recitation from
the scriptural verses of "Chandi", Bengali devotional songs, classical music
and a dash of acoustic melodrama.
For nearly six decades now, the whole of Bengal rises up in the chilly pre dawn hours, 4 am to be precise, of the Mahalaya day to tune in to the broadcast.''
You can listen to recorded Mahalaya here.
Tarpan: Within the first minute of the video itself, we move to images from 'Tarpan' being performed at the Ganges, the act of people praying for their deceased relatives and taking the holy dip in the river Ganga. During these rituals, the family prepares the food items as an offering and pray that the departed souls of the ancestors rest in peace.
Kumortuli : Almost half-way into the video, the cameras take us into the heart of ''Kumortuli'', the place most famous for sculpting Goddess idols for the pujas. A day before the puja, the video wonderfully captures all the hustle and bustle in the shops, puja preparations in full swing and all the decorators working around the clock to finish their work. You can see many more images captured by various photographers in Kumortuli on FlickR.

Video source: Anandautsav
The video is titled 'Bodhon', a name derived from the word 'Akalbodhon' or the 'Untimely invocation' as Durga puja is often referred to. 'Ashwin' (english:Sept to Oct) an uncustomary time for commencement of the worship. Traditionally durga puja is performed during Spring (Basanta). However, Lord Rama did "Chandi Puja" and invoked the blessings of Maa Durga to kill Ravana despite the time of year not being right and from this came the name.
The video starts in the ''thakur-dalan'' of the famous ''Shobhaabajar Rajbadi'' puja.
In this video you will see glimpses of several puja ''Pandals'' or the temporary structures that are meticulously crafted and designed specially for the puja to house the idols of Maa Durga in every neighbourhood. As you can see, there is an extensive display of craftsmanship and many of the pandals have used Bengali folk forms of art and craft this year.
The video has the ''Dhaak'' or the drums played throughout the festival at the pandals in front of the Goddess as part of the festival in the background.
Since we spoke of Shobhabajar Rajbari, it is important for me to add this:
''Traditional Durga pujas in Bengali households are an interesting feature of Calcutta's heritage. There are some pujas which dates back nearly 200-250 yrs,
are still performed with great dedication and devotion.
These pujas continue to uphold the traditional values but at the same time are no less
compared to the highly embellished community pujas organized in the city today.''

I want to share with some images beautifully captured by my cousin brother Rajarshi Halder
from some of these very first and most famous pujas in Kolkata.

Shobhabajar Rajbadi - 2nd house
Shobhabajar Rajbadi - 1st house

The ''Laha Bari'' puja. A very unsual and mesmerizing rendition.
These traditional idols, to my mind, are unmatched in their beauty and appeal.

Video source: Anandautsav
This video captures the city on the seventh day of the puja or ''Maha-Shaptami''.
The rains could not dampen the spirit of the devotees and they were out
visiting pandals and praying to the Goddess in full force. My favourite part of the video is when they show a ''Purohit'' or the priest worshiping the Goddess by waving a huge ''Haath-pakha' or the traditional Bengali hand-crafted hand-fan (haath:hand, pakha: fan) at 2:18 into the movie.
Sights and sounds typical of this time in Kolkata, quite nicely captured.

Video source: Anandautsav
The eighth day of the puja or ''Maha-ashtami''. The city is flooded with colourful lights and the people swarm the streets to see more pujas and walk all the night through from one to another pandal. The video starts with a festive dance and music and then a beautiful moment of ''Pushpanjali'' (or offering flowers to Maa, pushpa: flower, anjali: offering) where the priest chants couplets in Sanskrit, fresh flowers are handed over to all attending devotees, we repeat the chants after the priest and we offer them to Maa. This is an integral part of Durga puja, done several times every morning in batches (so that all the visiting devotees can offer) within a fixed time-period and the tradition is to fast before the ''Anjali''. We then see a visual of the ''Kumari puja'', a rather interesting ritual that, to my mind, is empowering for the girl child in our society.

Video source: Anandautsav
Evening in Kolkata on the ninth day of the puja, on ''Maha-Navami''.
Awards have been handed out, some pandals have won and some have not. The last day of the puja, last day of ''adda'', aimless chit-chat and ladies competing to look the best,
yound lovers and heart-breaks, music and mouth-watering food,
nostalgia and being home-sick for all of us away from home, an evening of mixed-feelings.
Video source: Anandautsav
The tenth and final day of the puja, time to bid farewell to Maa only to welcome her back next year. Married ladies play with ''Sindur'' or vermilion, dance and celebrate.
Everybody then gets ready for the immersions and the river banks reverberate with chants, hearts are heavy but we let go of Maa knowing that she will answer our prayers
and visit us again at this time next year.

I leave you with some photos of ''Sindur-khela'' from our Puja album of 2005,
we were in Mumbai at that time.

Hope you enjoyed this post.
Would love to know your thoughts on what you see!
Thank you Anandautsav for the videos and helping us all
visit pandals this year from wherever we are.

Monday, 28 September 2009

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