A unique art festival is being held at the famed Shravanabelagola where artists will showcase creations inspired by this historically rich destination
Conducting an event during a religious ritual that happens once every 12 years is a treat for any devotee, but this time, in addition to devotees, it will be art extravaganza and a treat for artists across the country. The Shravanabelagola Art Festival is bound to entice anyone interested in art, culture, history, heritage and architecture. This unique art festival is curated and conceptualised by mother and son duo Pushpa Panday and Rajat Pandya. A three phase art festival, the first phase saw artists gather to paint, and there are two phases to be held from February 17 to 26 during the Mahamastaka Abhisheka, and during March and April, where paintings from the festival will be displayed at various galleries across the country. Pushpa, a gold medallist and MA graduate of fine arts had worked on such projects for the past 25 years. Rajat explains further, “We are followers of Jainism, so she had a keen interest towards painting murals and Jain stories, history and heritage. She has organised similar events in Indore and Bhopal too.” Art festivals like this have been happening at various religious destinations, but at a very small scale. Pushpa had organised one such festival in Bawangaja with 50 artists in total. “My mother came up with the idea for this festival with the guidance and support of Swasti Sri Charukeerthi Bhattaraka Swamiji, the head at the Shravanabelagola Mutth. We showed the entire plan and got immediate support,” Rajat who is also an artist, adds. The location is rich in culture, tradition, heritage, art and architecture. “We wanted to put forth all the riches about the heritage with Lord Bahubali on canvas through an artist’s perspective. Not many people know about the beautiful temples and architecture that Shravenabelagola has and we wanted to capture not just the landscape but also contemporary and modern style impressions.” Through the festival, the idea is to bridge the gap between art, culture, religion and a historically significant place. From the planning stage in June, they got the necessary permissions to conduct a camp and artists gathered for their artworks. Three senior artists along with Rajat’s mother were selected from the open call. The biggest challenge was funding, with an initial fund given by the swamiji and major funders from USA and Hong Kong. There were about 45 artists from across the country, and about 25 from Karnataka and Bengaluru that took part in the first phase.
Rajat adds, “This festival is unique because its divided into three phases. The first was the camp that we had at Shravanabelagola where artists were invited to come and stay, and be inspired to create pieces of art from their experiences. In the upcoming second phase, we will be displaying all the artwork at Sharavanabelagola during the Mahamastakabhgisheka of Lord Bahubali. And finally, we will be taking the artwork and displaying it in various galleries across the country.” Puspha who is the brainchild behind this festival adds, “The festival is unique because it has a different set-up, and is inspired by the place, Lord Bahubali and The Mahamastakabhisheka. People come and offer praise to Lord Bahubali but they don’t really see the place, art, architecture and paintings that are almost 100 years old. The idea of this festival is to celebrate its beauty and rich history. People can expect a lot of beautiful pieces of artwork capturing the essence of Shravanabelagola and Lord Bahubali. As to their plans ahead, “Some of the artworks will be on sale, and the funds collected will go towards Jain Mutth and in the restoration and upkeep of the architecture and paintings,” he signs off.
— The paintings created during the art camp will be on display at Gallery G in the month of March.