Out of the box

German artist Veramaria (right) with tennis ace Serena Williams   | Photo Credit: 15dmcVERAMARIA2

Growing up in in strife-torn Germany, Veramaria, a resident of Dusseldorf, witnessed the unsavoury spectacle of locals showing hostility towards the Turkish immigrants, who had made this European nation their home to earn a livelihood.

While the rest of the neighbours would resent having to stay cheek by jowl with the Turks, who “looked different and spoke an alien language”, Veramaria would speak on behalf of the much maligned immigrants, who had made Germany their adopted nation because they wanted better food security for their children, modern accommodation, etc.

“While the rest of my neighbours were showing intolerance towards the Turkish immigrants, I shunned the idea of boycotting them at every given opportunity. Turks were treated differently on the ground as they looked different. This sort of racial segregation was unacceptable to me. So I ended up defending friends from other belief because my parents, well travelled and acquainted with people of different cultures and linguistic traditions, had inculcated in me the values of peace and co-existence,” says Veramaria, an artist who has painstakingly created spiritual gift boxes for a noble cause.

Since her parents were curious about people from different lands, even Veramaria developed a passion for acquainting herself with foreigners, who followed a religion other than Christianity.

Veramaria’s mission is to create an awareness among Indians as well as Germans about the relevance of festivals celebrated by minorities.

Through her gift boxes which are more of an educational tool than chocolate boxes, she seeks to make people of both nations understand the importance of festivals like Christmas, Ramadan and Baisakhi in the lives of different communities, who live together in one nation and represent one of the finest examples of pluralistic traditions. She wants Germans as well as Indians to get updated on history, culture and spirituality in an uncomplicated sort of way. Therefore, Veramaria has written answers on the back of every box.

A trained artist, Veeramaria has drawn colourful images of heritage places like the Taj Mahal, Red Fort and the Golden Temple juxtaposed to each other to highlight that pluralistic traditions and inclusiveness have always been a unique feature of India.

In the same box, there are German motifs too to show the confluence of the two diverse cultures. The attempt is obviously to bridge the gap.

While Veramaria is in an animated conversation with this reporter, her Indian sister-in-law gives another example of the country’s pluralistic traditions. She informs that the foundation stone of the all-important Sikh shrine of Harminder Sahib was laid by none other than Mir Muhammed Muayyinul Islam, famously known as Saint Mian Mir. He demonstrated broad mindedness towards people of other faiths and this played a big role in cementing ties between the people of diverse religions.

Noting that the box is meant for enlightening people about the significance of Christmas among people of other faiths, Veramaria says when she used to stroll at Khan Market and Sarojini Nagar Market in December she would see unbridled enthusiasm among the locals, especially children, towards festivities associated with Christmas.

“This box would increase general knowledge of kids. And they will also get to eat a chocolate after giving answer to every question. Another advantage is that proceeds from the sale are going to Kabliji Hospital and Rural Health Centre,” signs off the artist, who has worked with Serena Williams for the betterment of marginalised children in Africa and got boxing legend Muhammad Ali to sign autograph on his portrait.

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Printable version | Apr 13, 2021 4:46:25 AM |

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