Wednesday, February 13, 2013

She came home on Mahalaya...

It all began one July afternoon in 2011, while having chai on our terrace in Bangalore, 
Mr. Husband and I were reminiscing about our respective childhood days spent in Calcutta, West Bengal. {Yes, both of us had Grandparents who lived in the ‘City of Joy’}

The rich culture, the distinct architecture, the warm people and the simple daily life in the land of the Goddess is so deeply engrained in our memories that we wanted it to be part of our lives today. To be depicted in the form of art that could be cherished everyday. Forever.

With each painting that Dithi Mukherjee uploaded on her blog, we knew that she was the only one who could bring our memories alive with strokes of her paint saturated with Bengal folk-art and mythology.

Dithi Mukherjee needs no introduction but let me try.
She is a self-taught artist and a print-maker from West Bengal, India living in Geneva, Switzerland. Her paintings are inspired by the rich traditions of India, her childhood memories, her experiences in the magical land of Bengal, the folk art and the music of the Bauls… 

Her unique style of painting has the viewer getting lost in the eyes that are nectar-filled pools of beauty.

Away from home.
The unabashed use of a vibrant palette of colours, the Bengal influence makes Dithi's work very exclusive.
Kumortully Ghats 
Mother and daughter.

Her talent weaves magic on anyone who looks at these canvases steeped in vibrant hues.

On a personal level, I met Dithi online via Vineeta’s blog in 2009 and there was an instant connection.
A creative connection. 
A connection fueled by our love for India, the great admiration for our culture and traditions. 
A connection shared with many cups of steaming hot masala chai over the internet. 
A connection based on our love for the beauty of life. 
A connection based on the highest regard for each other’s creative work.

We commissioned Dithi to paint for us amidst her hectic travels between Geneva and India and our imminent move to Minnesota.

For us, Calcutta is our favourite Bonedi draped in the traditional soft Bengal handloom saree, the Shanka pola (White & Red Bangles), a hand fan for those hot humid summers, the black & white flooring on which we as kids ran with abandon during our summer vacations. 

Few weeks before Durga Pujo, 2012 with each exchange of mails, with each shared thought, with each experience, with each stroke of her brush the Bonedi was getting transformed into someone mystical, someone magical, someone embodying the supreme feminine power. 

She was becoming the Goddess
She was becoming Durga.
She was becoming Maa.

In October, 2012 Dithi was leaving for India to be with her family for the Pujos and she mailed the painting of Maa just before she left.

Each day passed filled with the anticipation of Maa’s arrival. 
....and then finally.

A beautiful golden handwritten note by Dithi.

She arrived!

Maa arrived on Mahalaya
{The auspicious day that heralds the advent of Goddess Durga, the beginning of the Navaratris}

Dithi elevated the painting to a completely superlative creative level with her interpretations, the profusion of colours on the canvas, the lotus-petal eyes to drown in, the spring-green ‘pakhi’ Her consort, the crimson-coloured fingertips, the Bangla composition by Rabindranath Tagore that runs along like an intricate silk border that holds the painting so delicately.

Maa's space in our humble abode.

The birdcage on the camphor chest is representative of the profound composition 'Khanchar Pakhi Chhilo' by Rabindranath Tagore depicted in the painting.
Here is the translation.

Meanwhile in Calcutta, Dithi helped me get a bunch of traditional Bengali Sindoor Daanis’ {Containers for storing Vermillion powder} which I wanted to be part of Maa’s corner in our home.

Along with the Sindoor Danis came Tara Maa's Magical Padukas. 

I have mentioned before in many of the previous posts that whenever art in any form comes home: It is a blessing. 

With Maa coming home to us, in our new home, in a new country, we feel completely blessed!

When the ochre lights come on in the evening.

Thank you Dithi Mukherjee, for giving us Maa!

Hop over to Dithi's blog to read her post on the creation of Maa.

( Copyrighted Images by Arch, Painting by Dithi Mukerjee. Please don't use without permission)