Monday, August 1, 2011

.........of Goddesses, Nudes and their Slut Walks

 

The so-called 'Slut Walk' must be in its throes in New Delhi, even as I write this piece. Newspapers today are flooded with debates between supporters and protesters to the concept of holding such a ladies march. But ideally there shouldn't be a difference of opinion within Indian civil(-ized) society, atleast on the core issue of violence against women. It is plainly not acceptable on human terms.

It would have been more ironic to have such a walk held in the by-lanes of Mumbai. The city is currently camped by clay-sculptors creating thousands of deity idols. Mumbai is gearing itself for the upcoming Ganesha, Gauri and Navaratri festivals. Gauri - for the uninitiated - is a Hindu Goddess of Creation... and Navaratri is a 9-day festival wherein Durga Maata - the goddess of Power is worshiped. Ancient customs, traditions and mythology of India - all hint towards worship of women.


The mention of Gauri and Durga Maata takes me into memories of my childhood spent in Bhusawal. I must have been around eight years old. The Ganesha-Gauri festivals were nearing. My small town was abuzz with advance preparations for the festivals. Having seen our adults perform pooja and sing bhajans (prayer songs) through the years, we children too decided to mimic them. We decided that our pandals would be constructed out of scrap, and garlands be created out of flowers plucked from vases at home. But none of us had pocket-money enough to arrange for a clay idol. So we decided to carve one for ourselves. Every day from then on, the 'artists' amongst us sneaked into a local sculpture studio to learn the craft. Children wouldn't be let in, and we made it a habit to peep through gaps in the tarpaulin.

Hundreds of nude female figures in clay were arranged in front of each artisan. We felt scandalized every time a carver touched one of those nudes. Slowly and steadily, the carvers perfected vital stats of all figurines. Somehow, the whole process seemed like stealthily watching a porn movie... Every child wants to grow up fast, and we were glad to have arrived on our opportunity to adulthood. Our secret visits to the studio continued. Another few days, and they began carving different drapes of sarees on the nude figures. Soon a set of skilled painters replaced the carvers... and the idols were coloured in skin, silk and gold. Before our little brains could estimate, hundreds of goddesses lay before us with their glorious sindoors and blessing hands. We were frightened, guilty, sad and already apologizing to Durga and Gauri for having imagined them as "nudes". There's no way a mother-goddess can be perceived that way!

Today, decades later, I am faced with the same shift of paradigms. Modern artists have forever faced fury of rightist groups. Whether perversion lies in the eyes of observers or the mind of the artist, is a debatable topic. Why doesn't that artist paint his own mother in nude, is what the moralists ask. On the other hand, India earns millions through tourism at Khajuraho. The point is not whether a goddess has been represented naked on the temples - the point is that our minds do not succumb to perversion even after seeing a lady in nude, once we decide that she's a goddess worth only our worship.

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4 comments:

The Combatants said...

Hi Hemant,

Very well crafted as always maintaining your quality. & now comes with a pen..

I truly Love your thought.
I want to add “faith one believes in should not be touched for Material gain”. It is an ultra sensitive matter…Terrorism is one which can be potential outcome of such issue.
Secularism is the Fashion these days.
Superficial Make-up to show part of civil society…

.. I guess as Indians we are losing a big deal here.

I follow Hinduism, I consider it is NOT a religion, Its more than that..
May be it is a Doctorate in itself in LIVING A GOOD LIFE supported by cognitive compilation of studies like Vedas & many other old Practices. We generally practice at festival times. I guess our ancestors have carved this Doctorate to lead a better life.& many such theories are supported by extensive researches like Astronomy / Geology , which are created , practiced , tested , validated & documented as we say in modern terms.. yes..It could be matter of belief.

Also there are many unnecessary setbacks such as Dowry, Caste system, Child marriage, Sati…. To count a few are what People have messed up by their behaviors & made it a practice for their convenience... a .& that is the faith...

Coming back to Art, I had reasons to Agree with M F Hussains Art as an Artist , but may disagree with his approach , I am not Extremist …But I value my Faith, I have been brought up with!

Indiawilds said...

Interesting take on the subject. I have heard several times as to why M F Hussain didn't choose to paint the Prophet Mohammed in nude and why he choose Hindu Godessess? Is it because Hindus are more tolerant and won't issue a fatwa? I had no answer to that question.

Why do we need to claim our artistic license and paint nude godesses when we very well know that it will hurt the sentiments of people.

On the other hand I am not in agreement with the moral brigade who go out and start bashing up lovers in the public places. That is another form of extremism. Both needs to be curbed.

Bikramjit said...

I guess we all do what we perceive is ok, I think the problem with our nation is too much importance is given to religion.
and YET no one gives a DAMN to the same Gods or goddesses when a WRONG has to be done.. No religion teaches bloodshed or at least killing of innocent people YET more people are killed , innocent people, in the name of religion than any other.

If only we actually followed what religion teaches us ..

It is OUR fault and each one of us is to be blamed for what religion has turned out to be in this age. because we make changes in it , according to our needs ALWAYS.


A good post, I would not comment on the sculptures etc. Because i dont want to start a controversary here.. all i will say is .. People have a lot to say on everything, they have a problem seeing a nude potrait of a goddess but they dont have any problem seeing porn or See a young girl being harassed and her clothes torn .. NO one bats a eyelid..

Bikram's

Hemant Sonawane's Studio said...

Dear Indiawilds & Bikramjit,

It's true we mould our society according to our convenience. If the collective majority genuinely believes something shouldn't exist, it is uprooted immediately. Whether an artwork is vulgar or not, truly depends on the intent with which it was made... rather than what the viewer perceives on seeing it.

Unfortunately today there is no scientific technology to gauge a person's true intentions. So as far as we assume that the artist doesn't mean to harm society through his works, there will always be some consideration made for proverbial 'artistic liberty' :)

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