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Fabric of faith

An exhibition at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, curated by author and lecturer Harsha V Dehejia, features 19th century Picchwais and paintings, along with present day photographs, with elaborate didactic information. The images and Picchwais are from the temple town of Nathadvara is home to Pushtimarg Vaishnavism and attracts pilgrims from all over India, especially from Gujarat and Rajasthan.


A Picchwais painting

They come to celebrate the Svayambhu Svarupa (appeared by itself) of Krishna which was discovered by Vallabhacharya in Govardhan near Mathura and later brought to its present location. Called Haveli, and not a temple, Krishna lives in regal splendour as a child of seven years and is celebrated with religious rites.

Picchwais serve as a backdrop to the idol of Krishna and depict the stories of the blue-hued God. They are adorned with motifs like gopis and gopas, cows and birds, creepers and blossoms and recreate the atmosphere of Vrindavana within the sanctum.

The painting of Picchwais arose from the art of miniature painting and murals in Rajput courts and there is anecdotal evidence that Picchwais were made as early as the period of Akbar. The inauguration on August 19 will feature Haveli Sangeet by Hemang Mehta. The event is sponsored by the Dehejia Endowment for Krishna Art.

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