Representing your state through your culture and art is always something to be proud of. That’s what artist Sonia Rodrigues Sabarwal is probably thinking right now. Her painting of goddess ‘Sheetlai’ on ‘People’s Wall’ is part of a mural at the recently opened New Parliament building in Delhi. This panel represents art from different states of the country.
Sonia’s panel was the last one, along with Jogi art from Gujarat, Warli art from Maharashtra, and Kerala style mural.
“For Goa, I depicted one of the seven sister goddesses, Sheetlai, who represents water (as she is said to have walked into the Arabian Sea). And, her halo is adorned with Kaavi design, that is an ancient art of Goa found at sacred spaces like temples, churches and traditional old houses in Goa,” says Sonia.
ABOUT THE ART
Sonia mural is 9 ft x 80 ft in size and involves folk, tribal and contemporary art by 74 women artists from different parts of the country. The theme of this mural is ‘Jan, Janani, Janmabhumi,’ (People, Mother, Motherland).
All the art is created using environment-friendly material such as vegetable colours, papier-mâché, banana pulp. It was curated by Ramakrishna Vedala, secretary of the Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi; while Odiya artist, Satyabhama Majhi; and Sharad Kumar from Bihar, did the coordination.
The journey of this art started in January when Sonia was invited to be part of the art workshop at Madhubani, Bihar, organised by Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi. “It was a collective work – folk and tribal art from all of India. We all had to see that the whole mural stands balanced in harmony,” adds Sonia.
Also, during this workshop, they were not informed where this mural would be used, and thus, the artists had no idea that it would be part of the New Parliament building.
When asked if Sonia would have done something else if she knew where it would be used, Sonia says, “No, I would have painted, goddess Sheetlai itself as I was guided into painting something of Goan origin (folklore or folk art of Goa.) Also, I relate to the shakti of goddess Sheetlai who resides in the waters of Goa. That’s where she went to reside. As for Kaavi art, I had done a lot of works related to Kaavi designs in my earlier paintings,” informs Sonia.
This is also not the first time that Sonia has depicted this goddess in her works. It was part of ‘Panjim 175’ art exhibition during the Serendipity Arts Festival, 2018.
Her work titled, ‘Mystical Divine Grace: The Seven Goddesses’, featured large portraits of the seven sisters who are worshipped as goddesses in different parts of Goa. They are Lairai in Shirgao, Mahamaya in Mayem, Kelbai in Mulgao, Morjai in Morjim, Shitali who walked in the Arabian Sea, Anjadipa who continues to wander around the Earth in search of the divine, and Milagres who converted to Catholicism and is venerated in Mapusa.
The Milagres Feast day is celebrated by, both, Hindus and Catholics. Devotees worship Milagres by pouring oil on her statue – traditionally a Hindu practice.