The Jakarta Post
Marrying a mighty prince: Krishna marries Rukmani, who is said to be the avatar of Goddess Lakshmi (goddess of wealth), in the Dwaraka Palace. (Aruna Harjani/-)
Living far away from her homeland India, Shanthi Seshadri continues the tradition passed on to her by her elders in commemorating her family’s culture and traditions.
Every year Seshadri celebrates the Navaratri festival – prayers of devotion to the three goddesses namely Lakshmi, Durga and Saraswati – which runs through for nine days.
Seshadri hails from Tamil Nadu in the Southside of India. People from this area are known to celebrate the festival differently from the rest of their countrymen in India.
“This festival was started by our ancestors around 1,000 years ago at the end of the monsoon season. The soil becomes fertile after the rains that the farmers would scoop it and make dolls out of them just for fun,” says Seshadri.
After a few years, the farmers monetized from their creative soil dolls. “They started making gods and goddesses dolls and people would buy and keep in their homes. Later on, they made other dolls like policemen, barbers and so on. Recently, the dolls formed adhered to the latest topics trending in India.”
The dolls are only available around three weeks before Navaratri festival.
Multi-talented: An ardent believer of Lord Krishna, painter Shanthi Seshadri recreates the life story of Krishna in her living room in Jakarta. (Aruna Harjani/-)
For Seshadri, it is her mother who buys the dolls for her which are then collected and kept in her home in Jakarta. She has been collecting her dolls for twenty-seven years now, which are placed in a triangle platform.
Besides collecting dolls, Seshadri creates a theme using miniature dolls enhanced with Styrofoam, wood and water.
“Being an artist, I wanted to go beyond collecting dolls. This year, to welcome my grandson, I chose Lord Krishna’s life story as my theme,” said Seshadri, who last year created a miniature of San Francisco, and the year before that South Africa.
Putting Kalinga in the right place: In this scene, Krishna shoos away the multi hooded Kalinga, the ferocious snake who poisoned the Yamuna river with his venom. (Aruna Harjani/-)
In the “mini-park” in her Jakarta’s home, she portrayed several famous stories of Lord Krishna – some of that which is, the birth of Krishna, and how his father Vasudeva carries him through the river to exchange him with another baby to protect him from Kamsa who wanted to kill him.
She also highlighted the story of Krishna sitting on a serpent’s head that was poisoning the Yamuna River. Another one would be Krishna with his friend Sudhama. The latter’s belief in Krishna made him prosperous thus acquiring material wealth.
Seshadri started her “Krishna Park” by throwing mud on her living room and allowing the mud to dry up. Using bricks and a garbage bag plastic she then made a mini river. The palaces and horses were all hands made using paper-mâché. It took her almost forty days to complete her mini-park.
Most of the time Seshadri, who is currently the President of India club, invites children from a nearby school to come and see her work.
“For this year, the kids get to learn the life of Lord Krishna,” she says.
“Navaratri is a vibrant and colorful festival. Every year I invite around 500 people to come to my house to view my creations for the sake of a continuance of our tradition. I serve Prasad (religious food offering) to visitors.” (ste)
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