God is a believer’s personal friend. And since he is ethereal, the reverent will worship God in an image which pleases him or her. Channeling their creative energies to this effect, in the week preceding Ganeshotsav, artists from the city have put to canvas images of Ganapati, along with symbols, turning their works into vehicles of pictorial storytelling. For instance, Sita Sudhakar Panda was exhibiting her series of 21 Ganapati paintings at Bal Gandharva Kaladalan until Tuesday. “My art is inspired by the South Indian tradition of Ganapati worship called Ekavimshati Pooja, wherein on the eve of Ganesh Chaturthi, devotees offer 21 leaves to the lord,” she says.
Therefore, Panda has rendered her 21 paintings in such a way that the image of Ganapati is formed as a result of arrangement of leaves painted on the canvas. “One might wonder why these leaves are so
important. These leaves are known to have medicinal and therapeutic value. Many of these fortify immunity, strengthening it before the chilly winters set in,” says Panda, adding, “This is the knowledge
our ancestors wanted to pass on to us. It is important that we conserve these trees.”
Panda’s Ganapatis highlight leaves that have been incorporated into the arrangement. “Arjuna leaves, for example, are beneficial to the heart. Mango and pomegranate leaves are immunity fortifiers. There is also a meditative and contemplative Ganesha formed of datura leaves, which have potent sedatives and myriad therapeutic qualities,” says Panda. She seeks
to give out a message to the
youth, “I want the youth to appreciate the bounties of nature and
also understand how important its conservation is.”
On the other hand, Jyotsna Deshpande’s art — on display at Darpan Art Gallery — is a result of the comparison she draws between the south Indian and north Indian visual representations of Ganapati. “I researched on the evolution in the form of Ganesha over the years. The old depictions date back to the 4th century — the era of Gupta dynasty. One striking change that appeared after the 11th century is an extra pair of hands. Before that, Ganapati idols had two hands,” says Deshpande, whose works are filled with many such interesting insights.
“Another set of additions happened during the 12th century in south India. Ganesha was given the rat as a vehicle and the cobra around his belly. South India, during that time, had several sugarcane fields, which were infested by