Writers and painters added sheen to Sri Jagannath Utsav.
Oriyas are so sentimentally attached to Jagannath, the presiding deity of the Puri temple, that their life, literature, heritage, arts and culture are deeply influenced by the Lord’s legacy. And thus it was no surprise that Bhubaneswar hosted an exclusive festival on Jagannath — Sri Jagannath Utsav — recently at Jayadev Bhawan that was an invocation to the Lord.
Organised by Ananya Srijagannath Sanshtan, a newly-formed forum for promotion of Jagannath culture, the two-day festival featured literary activities, religious discourses, book exhibition, dance and music recitals. But what stole the show was an exclusive exhibition of paintings on Jagannath and a jugalbandi of dance and painting producing a painting of the Lord.
Thirty-five artists came together for the show and that included eminent painters Siba Panigrahi, Baladev Maharatha and Kasinath Jena along with promising painters like Bikram Keshari Routray, Rabi Narayan Rath, Gajendra Padhi and Manas Jena.
Acclaimed writers and scholars Srinivas Udgata and Padmanav Mishra threw surprises by participating in the show. And there were housewives like Maitree Sahoo and Dipti Devi who also offered their homage to their beloved Lord through art.
Since all the paintings in this thematic exhibition dwelt on the cult of Jagannath, most of the works had a common motif — the circular eye of the Lord. And obviously, several paintings portrayed the dasavatara (ten incarnations) of Lord Vishnu of which Jagannath is described as one in saint-poet Jayadev’s famous Geet Govind.
Of all the works, one that stood out in symbolism was Bikram Keshari’s painting of empty pots of the prasad (holy rice). However, it was Maitree Sahoo, a self-taught young artiste, whose dasavatar series received rave response from the visitors. Sahoo deftly used the complex medium of oil colours in all her works.
The jugalbandi of dance and painting conceived and executed by well-known painter Baladev Maharatha was the most attractive segment of the festival that drew a huge crowd. While the King of Puri — Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb — was present, Maharatha painted on-the-spot while two Odissi dancers performed Geet Govind to the soul-stirring vocal rendition by noted singer Sangeeta Gosain.