On Friday, an exhibition titled ‘Devi’was inaugurated at the Kamaladevi Complex in India International Centre (IIC) in New Delhi. The exhibition was depicted through folk and tribal art, calendar art, and lobby cards which was curated by Seema Bhalla .
The whole exhibition depicts various manifestations of the goddess, which is represented in art from different periods, regions and mediums. A striking wooden sculpture, representing the ‘Village Devi’, a wooden bust of the ‘Devi’ as the protector from snakes, both from Karnataka, and an early Bengal school oil on canvas, depicting ‘Mahishasur Mardini’, are just a few among many other exhibits representing the goddess.
In Indian cinema ‘Devi’is a very popular theme and the viewers often make mistake and think that the actors are real divinity and respect them with the same emotion and sentiment as they experienced in the temples. The exhibition also includes some of the ‘lobby cards’ of the movies based on goddesses.
In India, women are addressed as ‘Devi’ as a mark of respect. Also the term has been part of the dialogues in the Indian classic cinema where the woman, regardless of her background, is addressed as ‘Devi’. The exhibition covers this aspect of usage that, once, was an ethical part of Indian society.
For a long time in India, equating women with goddesses has been a convenient way of burdening women into striving to be perfect, flawless, pious and pure ‘Devi’.
In the whole history of Indian art women are always depicted as ‘Devi’ and the subject of worship, which considered as the disguised form of goddesses.
Seema Bhalla said, “The inspiration for this special exhibit, ‘Devi’, is female power. Indian art has always viewed the woman with reverence and depicted her in a very powerful manner. ‘Devi’ shines the light on this important theme through exquisite works from across the country: Striking Bhuta sculptures from Karnataka, wooden arches with Gajalakshmi carved on them, a three-feet high sculpture of Shiva and Parvati seated on the bull, an early Bengal school oil on canvas painting of ‘Mahishasur Mardini’, handprinted ‘Mata ni Pachedi’ textile from Rajasthan.”