New Delhi, September 17
All set for commencement from Ganesh Chaturthi, India's new Parliament House will celebrate the cultural, artistic and intellectual heritage of the country and hail heroes of unity and democracy, right from Mughal emperor Akbar and Dara Shikoh to founder of the Sikh empire Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji.
On the eve of the opening, Sachchidanand Joshi, lead curator of the complex's art project and Executive Director, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, spoke to The Tribune about the project and described “The Mother of Democracy" gallery in the Constitutional Foyer as the "soul of the building".
“The Mother of Democracy gallery has 16 niches depicting the journey of Indian democracy from Vedic times. The Rigveda and Atharvaveda refer to participatory institutions Sabha, Samiti and Sansad. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata have instances of people’s involvement in decision-making. Then we have Buddhist, Jain texts, examples from the Ashoka, Chanakya and Mauryan periods, Uthiramerur inscriptions Nadu that mention rules of engaging people in governance and medieval period with examples of good governance and rule of law under Shravasti King Suhaldev, Vijayanagara and Chola empires; Mughal emperor Akbar, Dara Shikoh, Shivaji Maharaj and Maharaja Ranjit Singh," says Joshi.
Apart from democratic traditions, the New Parliament showcases India's cultural wealth with three dedicated galleries. "The first gallery called Shipl houses 175 forms of handicraft created by over 500 artisans from across India. This gallery has eight themes including aastha (faith), a unique section showcasing terracotta products created with the soil sourced from every state and UT," says Joshi, whose team documented the Sengol, which stands installed near Lok Sabha Speaker's chair in the new building.
The second art gallery -- Sangeet -- has a section hosting musical instruments played by great maestros.
"The families donated these instruments willingly for the new Parliament. We have the Sitar of Pt Ravishankar; the shehnai of Ustad Bismillah Khan; the sarod of Ustad Amjad Ali Khan; the santoor of Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma; the flute of Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia and Karaikudi Mani's Mridangam,” says Joshi.
In the third gallery -- Sthapatya – exhibiting Indian architecture marvels, the curating team had only one rider. "We included Uncesco world heritage sites from each state and an iconic monument if the state did not have any Unesco site. The gallery represents each faith through grand murals of the Golden Temple, the oldest mosque in Kerala, and major temples. We had only one mandate – all art should be inclusive and representative," the project director for the New Parliament art notes.
Another unique aspect of the complex is its three ceremonial foyers – Gyan Mandap dedicated with 18 feet brass murals of Nalanda and Gargi; Sankalp Mandap depicting similar murals of Acharya Chanakya and Mahatma Gandhi and Kartavya Mandap with murals of the Konark Wheel, Sardar Patel and BR Ambedkar.
"We have six gates - three ceremonial and three public. Guardian statues depicting composite animals sit on each gate. Ceremonial gates are Gaja dwar (elephant); Ashwa dwar (horse) and Garuda dwar while public gates have Makar, Hans and Shardul dwars, each leading to an iconic segment inside," Joshi explains.
On the controversial Akhand Bharat Map in Mother of Democracy segment, Joshi said, “The map deals with Ashokan edicts available across India, also in Afghanistan to Nepal wherever such records are found. It is an artistic representation, not a map to scale, neither is it a political map.”
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