Rituals of Durga Puja

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Rituals of Durga Puja start from the day of Mahalaya and continue till Dashami. The rituals include Bodhon, Amantron, mangal ghat, bathing of Nabapatrika and so on. Sacrifices are also included in the rituals. Earlier there was animal and human sacrifice. Since the rule of Vaishnava Kings there has been no such sacrifice. Vegetables are sacrificed instead. The sacrifice of pumpkin was one of the most common substitutes. Sacrifice is basically casting away of one’s sins and faults.

Incantations
Mantra has the power to accomplish what they say in the context of the Puja. Chanting of Mantras in a Puja is very efficacious. The power of mantra is associated with Puja and kriya. One can take refuge in God as Mother.

One finds the following prayer to Mother Durga in the Mahanarayana Upanishad (2.2): I take refuge in Her, the Goddess Durga, who is fiery in lustre and radiant with ardency, who is the Power belonging to the Supreme, who manifests Himself manifold, who is the Power residing in actions and their fruits, rendering them efficacious (or the Power that is supplicated to by the devotees for the fruition of their work). O Thou Goddess skilled in saving, Thou takest us across difficulties excellently well- Our salutations to Thee.”. She is duly worshipped in both aspects. One hymn praises Her benign Power, saying, “To Durga, the gracious and ever-benign, to the ever-auspicious One, the manifesto of all the worlds, I offer my respectful obeisance.” With words of humility and reverence, another hymn praises both aspects: “Obeisance to Thee, O Divine Mother, Durga, the benignant and yet terrific roaring. Thou art power, the dark night of destruction.” Both aspects, understood correctly, reveal Her benign redeeming grace. She destroys but to save. The vibrations give power. It is the sound that produces vibration. Mantra has the quality of a spell. People generally accept the action of the mantra when it is uttered by an ascetic. Mantras need to be pronounced correctly. Mantras contain the deity’s name in a particular object in which it is invoked.

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Clay Craft of West Bengal

West Bengal is famous for the craftsmanship of clay craft. The clay crafts of West Bengal have got its recognition because at the time of cultural refinement and progression, the craft got the Royal patronage and the artisans got the encouragement to develop this unique craft. The artisans create different items out of clay and to give the items a distinct style and luster a lot of techniques are followed by the artisans. The craftsmen involved in clay crafts usually follow two separate schools. One is the terracotta school in which the figurines are burnt to get the desired hardness and another is the school that does not follow the method of burning the clay items. This second process is more prevalent in Kumartulli and Krishnanagar in West Bengal.
The craft of pottery in West Bengal can be traced back to the Neolithic ages. Prehistoric archaeological evidence indicates a Neolithic stage of civilization in West Bengal. These have been largely collected from the districts on the border of Chota Nagpur and the Santhal Parganas that includes the regions of Bankura, Midnapore, Purulia, Birbhum and a part of Burdwan which has wedged itself in between Bankura and Birbhum (Asansol subdivision). This region is perhaps geologically, and also historically, oldest in Bengal.
In Bishnupur, Chaurigacha and Katalia and some other places in Midnapore and Bankura, perhaps the most primitive method of hand-modelled pottery is still pursued, and that almost exclusively by women. Moreover, in general, it has been observed that big jars are usually prepared by men, and comparatively small pots are made by women” (Saraswati and Behura). This is also largely true of West Bengal. To know more read:

http://www.indianetzone.com/41/clay_craft_west_bengal.htm

Types of Indian Painting

Numerous types of Indian painting have emerged in the due course of time in different geographic locations as a result of religious and cultural impact. The paintings of India can be broadly classified under wall paintings and miniature paintings. The different types of Indian paintings fall under this two broad categories but again they can also be classified depending on their evolution, emergence and style. Almost all of the ancient paintings are engraved on the wall of temples and caves. Miniature paintings are the ones made on small canvasses of papers and clothes. This type of art mainly evolved in the medieval age narrating the royal life which is quite popular now.

The technique and medium are the two major aspects of painting. Depending on these, paintings can be further classified as Patachitra, Marble paintings, Batik, Kalamkari, Silk paintings, Velvet paintings, Palm Leaf Etchings, Glass painting in India, etc. With the border of art shrinking and the world becoming a global village huge patterns of art form are in vogue. Finally religion and culture also have immense impact on paintings. Folk paintings, Indo-Islamic art and Buddhist art are different types. Mostly the paintings on the walls of caves and temples depict many aspects of Hinduism and Buddhism.

Rajasthani Paintings 
These Paintings are miniature paintings of the finest quality, which are made both on paper and on large pieces of cloth. Different parts of the state stick to their own style, and are thus recognized as different schools of paintings. A number of famous schools of painting are Mewar, Hadoti, Marwar, Kishangarh, Alwar and Dhundhar. Rajasthani painting has clear influences of Mughal paintings though it is quite distinct in its own way.

Mughal Paintings
Paintings of the Mughal are the amalgamations of indo-Islamic style of painting which flourished in the ateliers of Mughal emperors including Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan, delineating neatly the court life of Mughal royal society. Tanjore Paintings are classical South Indian form of painting which evolved in the village of Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu state well-known for its richness and compactness of forms and vivid colours. To know more read:

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Indian Paintings as an Art Form

Indian Paintings as an Art form has been practiced since the ancient times. Among the various forms of art, painting is most adored from earliest period, as painting captures the emotion and expression and retains this for a long period. Painting is the visual documentation of man’s thought and experience. In India painting was practiced from ancient time as evidence can be found in the prehistoric cave paintings of Bhimbetka. This paintings was done even before 5550 BC and spans around 600 hundred years, starting from upper Paleolithic to prehistoric and medieval times.

Early History of Indian Paintings as an Art Form
The antediluvian cave men engraved on the walls of caves with the blunt stone tools and coloured with twigs using minerals, earth and coal. They painted images of animals, scenes of hunting and also some feeble human figures. Eventually painting flourished in different regions of India in different periods of time. The paintings are segmented in two different forms- wall painting and miniature. In various times, the paintings have been illustrated on the walls of caves, temples and palaces and on clothes as Patachitra or on leaves. These paintings reveal the influence of local cerebral and cultural sensibilities as well as give cross-cultural insights.

Types of Indian Paintings as an Art Form
The vastness of India, its different geographical locations and various forms of culture gave rise to different forms of art and paintings, which are distinct from each other with their own characteristics but carry a common Indian essence. The Madhubani/Mithila painting, Pahari painting, Rajasthani painting, Warli painting from Maharastra and different South Indian styles namely Tanjore, Mysore, Lepakshi are the common examples. Also under royal patronage several styles evolved namely Mughal paintings, Rajput painting etc. Medium and technique also poses an important feature to the paintings. In India, lots of painting materials are available naturally and depending on this, various forms of painting like Batik, Kalamkari, Glass painting, Marble painting, Palm leaf etching etc have been evolved. There are also typical local forms of paintings like Phadas, Pithora, Pichwai, Worli, Thangka paintings etc. To know more read:

http://www.indianetzone.com/9/indian_paintings_an_art_form.htm

Gupta Sculptures in India

Gupta sculptures mirror the artistic talent that was predominant in the Gupta Dynasty. India witnessed the beginning of another era in the form of the Gupta Empire in the 4th century A.D and with the beginning of the Gupta period, the country was ushered into the classical form of sculpture. The Gupta Empire in India developed its own idiom for constructing sculptures and monuments. These features of Gupta sculptures were followed religiously by the then contemporary artisans. The Elephanta Cave temples and the structural temples at Kanchipuram in the state of Tamil Nadu are the enduring legacy of Gupta rulers.

 

All the sculptures produced throughout the Gupta Empire can be marked for having the appearance of relatively uniform ‘classic’ style. Snakes form an essential genre of sculpture during the 5th century. Some ‘Nagarajas’ and ‘Naginis’ from the apex of a disappeared pillar in Firozpur, a few miles away, have visibly extended serpent hoods; they and another pair in the Sand Museum are very much built in the Udaigiri style. Other than these, the terracotta in Gupta Era is also worth mentioning. A great deal of the sculpture is outside, on prepared surfaces of rock, and they are significant features of Gupta sculptures.

Gupta period was also known for its rock cut caves. The sculpture at Ellora Caves, sculpture at Elephanta Caves and that of the Ajanta Caves are worth checking out. The most commanding of the images of Lord Vishnu, with barrel chest, gigantic rounded shoulders and rather firmly handled legs, is the Kumara Cave, the earliest of all the immeasurable defenders of Hindu shrines, termed ‘pratlharas’ in north, especially in south, that they are the biggest and most extraordinary. The earliest specimens of Gupta sculptures in a full-fledged early Gupta style are from Vidisha and Udaigiri Caves in the state of Madhya Pradesh, which are present nearby. It was constructed throughout half of the 4th century in the Mathura tradition. To know more read:

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Mathura School of Art

 

Creation of the images of the Buddha was a conspicuous feature of the Mathura School of Art. The Mathura school of art is renowned worldwide for its vivacity and assimilative character of Indian themes, a tradition it has maintained till date. Mathura school of art is regarded as an outgrowth of ancient Indian school that flourished as centres of religious art back in 200B.C. The magnificence of Mathura school of art coincided with the rule of the Kushanas under the reign of Kanishka and his successors. The city of Mathura gained prominence under the supremacy of the Kushanas. The fervour of Brahmanism, Jainism and Buddhism is very well distinguished in the paintings of Mathura School of Art.

The sculptures of Mathura deserve recognition for creating the earliest, exclusively Indian representations of the Lord Buddha. Mathura school of art draws inspiration from the ancient Indian arts of Bharhut and Sanchi.

One of the very first images of Buddha to be carved at Mathura is a life-size standing figure found at Sarnath. The statue embodies Sakyamuni standing erect, his feet firmly planted, the right hand raised in the gesture of assurance, and the left is on the hip supporting the folds of his robe. It has been suggested that he is shown as a Bodhisattva, rather than Buddha, since the figure is nude to the waist and wears the characteristic Indian dhoti. The gigantic proportions of this and related figures of the similar kind, its implication of weight and unrestrained volume, as well as the dress, clearly link it to the colossal yaksha statues of the Maurya Period. To know more read:

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Crafts of Punjab

Crafts of Punjab are admired all over the country for the exquisite blend of artistry and colours they present. Punjab is a state known for its colourful handicrafts, which brings out the colourful and vibrant spirit of the people of the state. It seems as if craft making virtually runs in the blood of the Punjabis. The range of crafts in Punjab include phulkari, woodwork, wood inlay, lacquerware, leather craft, floor coverings etc and are used extensively for decorative and utilitarian purposes. Since ancient times crafts of Punjab occupies a special place among the people of the state and many folks have adopted them as their sole source of income. These are not only cherished by the Indians but also attract foreign tourists who love to have them as exquisite souvenirs.

Phulkari
Phulkari is a type of embroidery, which the Punjabi women undertake to utilize their leisure time. This embroidery requires a lot of skill and time. It is a traditional craft of Punjab and best exemplifies the Punjabi folk art. It is a spectacular design, which is made through horizontal, vertical and diagonal stitches. In Phulkari the whole cloth is covered with intricate embroidery leaving no space untouched. Today, phulkari has attained a commercial proportion and has moved away from the geometrical style and has stylized flowers, animals, birds, jewellery pattern etc. The cloth is generally red or maroon in colour and the silk threads used for the embroidery are gold, yellow, crimson red, blue and green colours.

Jootis
Attractive leatherwork is also a craft in Punjab. Rich gold and multi coloured threads are used to embellish and lend a tinge of royalty to the jootis, which are made from leather of different shades. Muktsar near Faridkot is well known for jootis. There one can find jootis embellished with zari (gold thread), salma and tilla. To know more read:

http://www.indianetzone.com/16/crafts_punjab.htm