Saturday, April 27, 2013

A museum devoted to Madhubani paintings in Japan

A Godavari Dutta painting
on the wall of her house
Did you know that there is a museum in Japan devoted to Madhubani paintings?

Well, I didn't either, but that was before visiting Madhubani.

Ranti village in Madhubani is home to quite a few famous madhubani artists like Mahasundari devi and Godavari Dutta.We wanted to meet at least one of them, and as luck would have it we did meet with Godavari Dutta. Godavari Dutta is over 80 years old but she is so active at this age that you will find it hard to believe that she is over 80! A Rashtrapati award winner for her excellence in painting and social welfare, She is quite a well known name in Madhubani.

Love this one
Godavari Dutta's Madubani painting in a
museum in Japan

We reached her place around 1 pm, and she was actually resting then. We did not want to disturb her because it was after all an odd time to call on anyone. But then we did not have an option to visit her later:(

Her daughter- in- law who received us said that her mother-in-law would be happy to meet anyone who wants to know about Madhubani paintings. We settled down and started admiring the paintings on the walls of the house. Godavari Dutta joined us soon after.

I was admiring the painting on a wall (the topmost image) , when she came in to the room. She told us that this paiting is over 30 years old. She talked about how she began painting, about how popular madhubani painting is abroad, especially in Japan. That's when we found out that Japan has a museum dedicated to Madubani paintings. Most of the paintings in the museum have been sourced from areas in and around Madhubani and Nepal. Quite often they invite Madhubani artists to Japan, to paint. Godavari Dutta was also invited several times to Japan and her paintings are on display in the museum.

The museum is in a place not very far from Tokyo, in Oike, surrounded by forests and as close to nature as possible. What used to be an abandoned elementary school is now home to the largest collection of Indian and Nepalese Madhubani paintings. Hasegawa Tokio, who opened the museum in May 1982, has visited India several times, and collected a lot of paintings for the museum. The idea behind opening this museum was to create a cosmic space where art and nature co-exists.

I don't think we have anything like this in India yet, which is sad. Because someday our old forms of art may disappear and there is nothing we can do about it unless we make an effort to preserve these now.
Godavari Dutta

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Vaishali in Bihar, India; Lord Buddha announced his approaching nirvana here

From Kesariya we set off for Vaishali. It took us around 1 and a half hours to reach Vaishali by road.

Kolhua which was a part of the ancient city of Vaishali is famous for being the place where Lord Buddha was offered a bowl of honey by a local chief of monkeys. According to Buddhist literature this event is one of the eight most significant events in Gautam Buddha's life. He spent a lot of time here.

This place is also considered to be very significant because Lord Buddha announced his approaching nirvana, and converted a proud dancer, Amrapali, to a nun. Posting some pictures from Vaishali.

On the way from Kesariya to Vaishali we stopped over at a roadside dhaba to have lunch. It was hot and delicious. Just what we needed!
Brick stupas

Asokan pillar, Vaishali
Brick stupa in Vaishali

Asokan Pillar
Inscriptions on the Asokan pillar in Vaishali

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The largest Buddhist Stupa in the world!

Buddhist Stupa at Kesariya, Bihar

From Madubani, we set off for Muzaffarpur, we needed to halt at a place for the night. We still had Kesariya and Vaishali on our list. I was very interested in kesariya because the Buddhist stupa in Kesariya is suppossed to be the largest in the world!

We started off very early the next day, around 5 am. Kesariya is around 82 kms from Muzaffarpur, it took us around 2 and a half hours to reach Kesariya.

The first view was almost like a hillock; after we got a little closer, I relaized that we were looking at the largest Buddhist stupa in the world! It is quite something.

The stupa was excavated in 1998 by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and dates back to 200 AD to 750 AD.Certainly worth a visit, especially if you happen to be in that area.

Kesariya stupa
Side view of the stupa

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Madhubani paintings and a historical village, Saurath

A wedding scene depicted
on a wall Madhubani style
In continuation to my earlier post on Madhubani paintings, on our way out of the village, we came across several more beautiful Madhubani paintings on the walls of buildings, homes and even huts. I am posting some more of these beauties. I especially like the one on the hut. We also visited a village by the name of Saurath. We wanted to visit Saurath because it has a rich history. This village was earlier known as Saurastra; it was supposed to be a cultural centre. It seems Sita's swayamvar happened in this village! 

Madhubani painting
on a hut

Krishna with Gopis 

This village is also popular because of an age old tradition. Every year during the marriage season maithili brahmins would meet in order to fix the marriage of their daughters and sons. There would be panjikars present who would have the list of generations of maithili brahmins. There is an interesting old Shiva temple in Saurath, I believe the gathering happens near an orchard in that area. It seems though that the popularity of the event has diminished these days.

Old temple in Saurath
Temple interiors