The beauty of offering soil to the ‘Amrit Kalash’

The beauty of offering soil to the ‘Amrit Kalash’

Until Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived at Vijay Chowk, India Gate on the evening of October 31 to offer soil into the ‘Amrit Kalash’ for the grand culmination of the ‘Meri Mati Mera Desh’ campaign of the ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, artist Suryasnata Mohanty had no idea that the ‘Kalash’ (earthen urn) beautifully painted by her in traditional Odia art style during a five-day workshop in Lalit Kala Studio at Garhi, New Delhi, would be the one to be held in the hands of Narendra Modi. As she watched TV in bewilderment, it took time for the significance of the moment to sink in.

“What can be a bigger achievement for an artist to see one’s artwork selected for the Prime Minister’s own use in a grand event like this and be held so respectfully by the country’s Prime Minister in his own hands?” said Suryasnata Mohanty with a sense of due pride.

An LLM alumnus of the prestigious NLS Bangalore and a gold medallist in her BA LLB from Utkal University, Suryasnata Mohanty is also a professional visual artist and has exhibited her paintings in numerous shows in leading galleries in the country.

Suryasnata was among 30 selected artists who took part in the Lalit Kala Akademi workshop at Garhi to paint 50 ‘kalash’ each for the ‘Amrit Kalash’ programme at Kartavya Path to mark the culmination of the ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’. From over 2000 such ‘kalash’ painted by the artists to be installed in Kartavya Path, only 10 ‘kalash’ were shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s stage.

“Although my ‘kalash’ painting was being appreciated by all at the Garhi workshop, I never knew about any shortlisting or that it’d be selected for the PM’s own event. I gave the base colour of earth brown to preserve the authenticity of the ‘Kalash’ and took inspiration from Odisha’s traditional ‘jhoti’ art style, which is a part of our rural art tradition. It also connects with the entire rural India. The occasion of the country’s soil being brought from six lakh villages to India Gate inspired me to present the rural local art tradition in the great tradition of the country’s capital,” she said.

It was an incredible moment for Suryasnata when the Prime Minister picked up her painted ‘Kalash’ in his own hands. “Nothing can ever match the feeling and sense of achievement that the ‘Kalash’, which I held in my hands and painted painstakingly, found a place in the PM’s own hands. It’s also a great act of endorsement of our traditional art and cultural representation by the Prime Minister,” she stated.

Suryasnata Mohanty is an educationist and the Joint Director of KIIT University, Bhubaneswar. A self-taught artist, she practices art from her base in New Delhi.

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