Tuesday, January 15, 2008

An Art Pilgrimage

By7 Upneet Pansare

Talk of the Jain community and the first thing likely to strike you is either the pious customs that they religiously follow or their expertise spanning across different kinds of businesses. But a visit to the Jain Pavillion at the NSE Grounds at Goregaon would enlighten you about the little-known glory of Jain art.

With over 150 intricately carved idols of Lord Mahavir made of precious and semi precious stones and a collection of Jain iconography, miniatures, wall paintings from different periods of history, the Jain Pavilion is part of the second Jain International Trade Organisation (JITO) conference which began on Thursday.

The highlight of the Jain Pavilion is the 14.6 feet wide, 12.7 feet high, 5 feet deep ‘ Ashtapad’- the place where Tirthankar Adinath is believed to have attained nirvana, a location near the Mansarovar—carved in crystal and brought form Brazil, all 11.8 tonnes of it. “The Jain pratimas (idols) on display have been made by local artisans from Jaipur from various gemstones including emerald, ruby, aquamarine, tourmaline, amethyst, kunzite, smoky, rose quartz and malachite,” said Naresh Mohnot of Mohnot Gems. Reportedly, a Jain doctor (who does not wish to be named) residing in the US owns some of the idols. Once the exhibition ends, the idols will be transported back to his home in the US.

A unique section of the Jain Pavilion also houses photographs of sculptures, mantras, cosmology and paintings from all the tirths (prominent Jain pilgrimage centres) in India including Bundi, Vidarbha, Shravanbelagola, Surat, Kolkata , Jiyaganj, Azimgunj, Khajurao, Devgarh, Gwalior, Mathura, Chanderi. The sculptures date from 2nd Century AD to 15th Century AD. From a massive Shatranjay Patt (1641 AD) featuring Sahasrakoot (miniature painting of 1,024 tithankars) from Ahemdabad to the benevolent statue of Neminath in Shravanbelagola, the exhibition captured the attention of young and old visitors alike.

Rishabh Kothari, a college student and a first time visitor to the exhibition, said: “The Jain Pavillion is the only exhibition of its kind that I have been to. I am a devout Jain and I am proud to see the exquisite talent of the Jain artistes.”

For some like housewife Uma Shah, visiting the exhibition was like going on a pilgrimage. “Under one roof, I got to see all the tirths,” she said.

Organiser Nikhil Shah explained that last year too, there was a similar exhibition. “But this year, we have organized it on a much larger scale. We have also managed to get hold of photographs of the tirthankar head from Chanderi (Madhya Pradesh) and a rare 40 ft long Panchakalyanak Patt from Karanja (Maharashtra), both dating back to thousands of years.”

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