Last event of Festival of India in Bangkok.
By Lekha Shankar
The first-ever Festival of India in Thailand, organised by the Indian Ministry of Culture and Embassy of India, has had a varied array of unique events from different parts of the country – religious chanting and dancing by Buddhist Lama monks from Arunachal Pradesh, tribal folk dance from Nagaland, classical dance –drama by the world-famous Kalakshetra institution of Chennai, old-world Yoga-workshop and new-age ‘Bollyfit’ demonstration by well-known practioners from New Delhi.
The last event of the Festival, is a rare and arresting Buddhist Exhibition , arranged by the Nava Nalanda Mahavihar Varsity of the sacred Indian Buddhist city of Nalanda.
The Buddhist Exhibition ,which is currently on in the Srinakharinwirot University, will move to the Siam Paragon Hall tomorrow, so that larger public audiences can view the unique artefacts. Supported by the Buddhadasa Indapanno Archives , the Exhibition will be inaugurated by HRH Princess Soamaswalli, on 3 April, at 10-30 am.
The Exhibition, entitled ‘Dharma Darshan’ (‘ Experiencing the Dharma’) has unique and vibrant statues of the Buddha in various ‘Mudras’ (‘Bhumisparsha Mudra, Dharmachakra Pravartan Mudra’ ), as also the rare image of the ‘Emaciated Buddha’ ( after his rigorous penance , and just before he gained enlightenment ).
The panels recount various tales, including the ‘Empty Throne’, after the Buddha’s passing away, which has moved many Buddhist viewers to tears.
The Exhibition also has riveting, calendar-style pictures of the many sacred Buddhist sites in India. These include the four most important places- Lumpini, Bodhgaya, Sarnath, Kushinagar, as also Rajgir, Sravasti, Vaishali, Sankassia, not to forget the Ajanta, Ellora , Nagarjunda Caves, and several others.
Jhumur Singh, the chief Curator of the Exhibition, worked tirelessly for than two years, with her artist-husband, Shailendra Kumar Singh, to set up this Exhibition.
The statues are replicas of the actual statues which are housed in the top museums of India. But the sculptor informed that it was not easy to make the fibre glass models, which each took many months to create, at a very high cost.
In addition, they needed to have the right ‘spirit’, when making them, which is why she and her team did intense meditation for many days, before creating the statues.
The Buddhist Exhibition was earlier held in Laos, Cambodia,Vietnam which also had inaugural Festivals of India, this year. In the first two countries, it was held in ancient ‘pagodas’, and in Vietnam, it was held in the well-known Fine Arts Gallery.
Jhumur Singh spoke of the hordes of people, who came to view the Exhibition, at these places.
“ Many of them prayed, meditated, even wept ” she stated “ I’ve never seen anything like this!”
Infact, in Laos and Cambodia, the public did not want the artefacts to be removed, and the Indian Culture Ministry planned to give them many artefacts, so that they could remain as permanent Buddhist Exhibitions there.
The Buddhist Exhibition will be accompanied by sonorous ‘ Mangal Sutra’ music, as well as scintillating Tabla and Kathak recitals from teachers of the Indian Cultural Centre in Bangkok
The ‘Dharma Darshan’ Buddhist Exhibition, be on view at the Siam Paragon Hall, from 3 April to 7 April.
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