Rare Buddhist Exhibition At Siam Paragon

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

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The ‘Dharma Darshan’ Buddhist Exhibition, be on view at the Siam Paragon Hall, from 3 April to 7 April.

 

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