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A Unique Art Festival To Showcase The History And Heritage Of Shravanabelagola

By Lekhaka

The festival is a collaboration between many established and upcoming artists, art institutes, galleries and patrons from India and across the world.

As you may be aware, lakhs of devotees from all over the country and abroad are expected to gather at Shravanabelagola, the Jain pilgrimage centre, for Lord Bahubali's 'Mahamastakabhisheka', a once-in-12-year ritual.

The ceremony, believed by some to be one of the most thrilling spectacles of worship in the world, is scheduled to take place between February 17 and 26.

On this auspicious occasion, the Shravanabelagola Art Festival is being curated and conceptualized by Mrs. Pushpa Pandya and Mr. Rajat Pandya under the auspices of the Shravanabelagola Matt and with the blessings of Swasti Sri Charukeerthi Bhattaraka Swamiji.

This is for the first time when an exclusive event of such a sort will be held during the Mahamastakabhisheka. Mrs. Pushpa Pandya is a Gold Medalist in M.A. Fine Arts from Indore University. She has a vast experience of organising Art shows, Jain theatre plays, dramas & cultural events at Indore, Jaipur and Bawangaja.

Below are some of the key events planned be held before and during the Shravanabelagola Art Festival:

Live Fine Arts Painting By Renowned Artists During The Mahamastakabhisheka: A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to watch and perform during the Mahamastakabhisheka at Shravanabelagola. Live painting demonstration will be held daily from the 19th to 26th February 2018. Limited two slots are available for performing live painting, while the kalash will be performed.

Fine Arts Painting Workshop To Be Held Before The Mahamastakabhisheka: A 3-day art camp was held between 26th and 28th of January, 2018. The camp hosted 50 artists from around the world who immersed themselves in the culture and heritage of Shravanabelagola, and produced their own works of art celebrating the town and its temples.

Art Show & Exhibition To Be Held During The Period Of Mahamastakabhisheka: Creation of 75 unique paintings inspired by the art, history and heritage of Shravanabelagola will be showcased at an exhibition between the 17th and 28th of February. Also, a part of the festival, is a gallery roadshow that will start from Shravanabelagola and travel across the country and exhibit selected artworks.

Talk shows & panel discussion to be held based on the art exhibition and old paintings which are made in the temples.

Street wall art painting to be done in and around Shravanabelagola.

Here's an interview from the curator of the Art festival, happening in Shravanabelagola, take a look.


1) Where were you born and brought up? How did you develop an interest in this field?

I was born and raised in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. I had always been keen on arts, dramatics and poetry and went on to earn a Masters in Fine Arts from Indore University where I also awarded a gold medal.


2) Please tell us more about the art festival.

The festival is a unique art festival happening in Shravanabelagola, India. This festival is happening during the maha-mastakabhisek of Lord Bahubali's statue in January and February 2018 to showcase the history and heritage of Shravanabelagola. Organized under the auspices of the Shravanabelagola Matth and blessings of Swasti Sri Charukeerthi Bhattaraka Swamiji, the festival is a collaboration between many established and upcoming artists, institutions, art galleries and patrons from India and across the world.

The festival covers three events between January and March of 2018. The festival kicks off with an artist's camp in January when over 45 artists come together to create works of art inspired by the art, architecture and spiritual message of Shravanabelagola and Lord Bahubali. In the next phase, a grand exhibition is being put together in Shravanabelagola during the Mahamastakabhishek, where paintings from the camp will be showcased to over 40 lakh visitors and devotees.

Also, for the first time ever, artists will be painting live during the abhishek of Lord Bahubali to capture the event live on canvas! Finally, the exhibition will be followed by a roadshow across major art galleries that we have partnered with across India.


3) How was the response to the first round during Jan 26-28th?

The art camp hosted 45 artists from across the country. This includes a diverse group of senior and well-recognized artists, as well as young, upcoming artists and students across all genres. Notable names such as Prof. MJ Kamalakshi, Mrs Sudha Manohar, Professor VG Andani, Prof. KS Appajaiah joined the camp along with several upcoming artists from across the country.

The artists immersed themselves in the culture and heritage of Shravanabelagola, and produced their own works of art celebrating the town and its temples. We were really inspired by the work created by the artists and the stories of inspiration they found when they saw the statue of Bahubali. Every artist had a unique perspective that made the camp well worth it.


4) Have you conducted this kind of an art festival before?

Yes, I have conducted a similar camp in Badwani, Madhya Pradesh. Badwani is a small town close to Indore and has a tall statue of Adinath, who happens to be Bahubali's father. We invited over 15-25 artists from Madhya Pradesh to participate in that camp and produce paintings that were inspired by the story of Adinath.


5) Are you conducting the art festival after having studied about the history of Shravanabelagola and Jainism?

We have been associated with Shravanabelagola for a long time and have a strong spiritual connection with this place. Over time, we have studied the history of Shravanabelagola as well as the story of Bahubali and his younger brother Bharat. Shravanabelagola and Bahubali have a very relevant message for us in today's day and age and we find that to be very inspiring - one of giving up our pride and greed, being forgiving towards others and that of not being engrossed or possessed by our worldly possessions. I have studied Jain literature and Jain history all my life and given the same teachings to my children.


6) Tell us about your efforts in bringing together 50 artists from all over the world.

We put out an open call and very quickly word spread like wildfire. The interest from artists all over the country was amazing. Everyone wanted to be a part of the unique experience and that's what drew them to this special place. We also worked closely with the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath as well as several of our gallery partners to invite artists from their networks. The response was overwhelming and we are glad to have worked with all of them. The artists are the real heroes of this event. We had artists across all genres, from across the country as well as from Karnataka and both senior as well as upcoming artists. It was such an eclectic mix of creative people, all giving their best creative efforts to bring out the essence of Shravanabelagola!


7) What is the estimated cost for conducting this art festival? Have you got any sponsors?

Given the scope, size and duration of the project across multiple stages, it is a significant undertaking and so is the budget. We are grateful to have the support of many donors who stepped forward generously to support this cause. Our donors came from all over the world, notably - the United States, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Delhi, Bombay, Bangalore in India. A detailed list of our Founding Patrons and Patrons can be found online at The donors comprised of individuals as well as institutions.

8) Tell us more on the overall arrangements made for the festival and 'Mahamastakabhisheka'

The mahamastakabhisheka is one of the biggest Jain events across the world and attracts Jains and non Jains from India and all over the world. The organizers expect over 10 lakh devotees to attend the event between the 17th and 26th of February this year. The government, as well as the Shravanabelagola Organizing Committee, have made elaborate efforts to make this a successful event.

Read more about: art festival
Story first published: Monday, February 19, 2018, 18:01 [IST]
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