A Local Festival

A Local Festival

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Item Code: HH63
Watercolor on Paper
Artist: Navneet Parikh
13.5 inches X 10.0 inches
This painting, a work of masterly hands rendered using soft colour-tones characteristic to Bikaner art-style of Rajasthan as prevailed around the later half of the eighteenth century, portrays a procession carrying in a palanquin a full size image of Gauri or Parvati, Shiva’s spouse. The procession is led by a state-flag bearer on an elephant followed by the prince abounding in regalia to also include the royal canopy, the insignia of the state. He is riding a brilliantly adorned horse. By the side of the prince a courtier is seen holding in his hands a tray covered with an ornate scarf, containing sweets, fruits etc. for making offering in the course of rituals, or a gift. Towards the end of the procession there is the effigy of the goddess Gauri in a brilliantly canopied majestic palanquin, made of gold and studded with gems, which four servants of the state are carrying. The state’s insignia, the royal canopy, carried behind the goddess, imparts to her the same stately honour and distinction as it imparts to the prince.

This painting obviously portrays a festival or ritual celebration, though it is unlike any of the known or established festivals or ritual celebrations of India or of any of its major regions. Apart that India, a land of diverse believes and traditions of past, has numerous local festivals and rituals confining to a state or an area, or sometimes to a family, born of some events of local significance, in princely states, Rajasthan in particular, with every state seeking to have its own distinction in everything, even a ritual, such diversifications in the forms and shapes of festivals were quite common. The procession portrayed here in the painting is obviously a part of the celebration of a royal ritual in all probabilities from Rajasthan. It might be a form of the Mangala-Gauri festival celebrated in the month of Shravana, the monsoon month. Though a festival of young married wives observing fast and austerities dedicated to Gauri on all Mangalas – Tuesdays of the month during first five years of their marriages for the well-being of their husbands, its celebration involves the participation of males too. Kin of those observing the austerities, which include nights-long waking and to help it nights-long performance of music and other activities, are invited to join such performance. Maybe, in medieval India the princely families carried with them, besides gifts, also idols of Gauri, as records this painting.

This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.

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