Even though the completion of the Ram Mandir construction at Ayodhya will take a couple of years, a ninth-generation descendent of the artists of Manihar (Muslim) community has made its replica by using 33 kg Jaipur famed ‘laakh’ (shellac usually used in bangles) and 80,000 ‘chaton stones’ at a cost of about Rs.7 lakh.
PMO officials have recently examined the replica and assured its artist, Shadab Ahmed Khan, to facilitate his visit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“This model would be presented as a gift to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the first or the second week of November so that this piece of unique and ancestral art be placed in Ayodhya’s Ram Mandir”, Khan, a Manihar artist of world fame having his name listed in India Book of Records, 4th World Records Holders and several other state awards, told SNS.
Crafting his art on this replica after the Supreme Court’s clearance of the construction of the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, Shadab has made it in 55 kg weight by fixing 33 kg of lakh, 80,000 stones (machine cut) and 12000 Saroski (Belgium bits). The three-storey structure in five sections is covered by golden work. It covers ‘Rang Mandap’, ‘Nartya Mandap’, ‘Kund Mandap’, ‘Garbhgrah’, and ‘Shikara’.
“Its finishing work needs a little more time, maybe a couple of months,” said Shadab, who is imparting free coaching to 650 women in the art form in parts of the country.
“This ancient Lac art which dates back to the time of Mahabharata is a symbol of Indian culture and tradition. Articles of lac made in Jaipur include chandelier, royal tanpura, mirror frames, Indian deities like Ganesh, teapots, etc.,” he said.
Asked why and how the idea of Ram Mandir replica struck him being a Muslim, Shadab said, “I learned this great ancient lac art at a very tender age, 10 years to be precise. It has been almost 30 years since I am practicing this traditional art of Jaipur’s Manihar community located in the walled city’s narrow lanes. I have produced many other artworks regardless of caste and religion. I never thought of hurting anybody’s sentiments while producing my artwork. Art is above everything.”
On being quizzed on the reason why he wants to gift this precious replica to the nation for free, he replied, “Manihar community wants to draw the attention of the Central government to the men, women, and children engaged in sustaining the famous art and culture. We want the government to provide include us in the mainstream by promoting this art and extending job offers to our youths. Money matters little in art, particularly the rarest of the rare art form. This work though gives us employment throughout the year; it hardly ensures us two square meals a day. However, if our society stops the work, the art we have sustained through ages will become extinct.”
Shadab’s fine artworks have already been displayed at national and international exhibitions organised by the Ministry of Textiles, DCH, MSME, and Ministry of External Affairs. He has spent his small savings on the replica of the Ram temple, but he does not want any remuneration from it.