(click on the image for a larger view)
This summer, we had an unique cultural experience through Rasalok (still theatre in miniature form) at Bimba in Bangalore.
Bimba – the art hut, a totally non-commercial NGO is situated in an area away from the hustle and bustle of the market, at the corner of DVG road(Upahara darshini end) on Ratna vilas road in Bangalore. The moment you step into Bimba, you travel back 100 years in time. Yes, that is precisely the age of the building. Every thing here smells and feels of the sepia toned times.
The whole concept of Rasalok was formed by the mother daughter duo of Smt. Uma Nagraj and Deepika Dorai. They decide upon a appropriate moment from our rich history,culture or myth. They visualize the moment and then create a tableau in miniature form of that period, scaling them proportionately (like golu- tamils display little dolls during navarathri). This requires skilful artistic engineering, creativity, imagination and craft work. They paint the face of dolls and stitch costumes relevant to the period to perfect detailing.
Mr. Deepak who gave a brief intro about the art, informed us that the idea originated from Mrs. Susheelamma (mother of Uma Nagraj) who used to do such creative work during her free time (with plastic dolls) which was eventually passed and improvised by the succeeding generation of her family. Now Deepika uses special wooden toys which have flexible joints.
The tableau is then encased in a box. The mother/ daughter narrate the inherited story from our culture pertaining to the tableau through a live drama.
They have captured five such enthralling moments from our faith.
Krishna and Sudhama
Sankaracharya rolls the cosmic dice
Muthuswami Dikshitar – A gift of Goddess
Ravana – The priestly asura
What we saw was Ganga Avataranam. (The descending of river Ganga to Earth)
The spot light was only on this tableau and darkness surrounded us when we entered the 100 year old room. The whole ambience transported us to the Kailash mountain. The scene was where Lord Shiva took the viswaroopa form in front of Bhagiratha and heeded to the request of bringing Ganga to the earth. Mrs. Deepika arrested us for an whole hour with her narration which was complemented by her well modulated voice and expressions.
It was an unusual and beautiful experience for the children and elders too.
The tableau itself was so appealing with the entrance of heaven( from where Ganga descends) strewn with little golden lotuses and the corridors of heaven were a rare creation. The materials used are paper, wax, fabric,beads, rope,miniature jewels, details of plant and animal life and relevant props like palace gate, banyan tree which are made from other media.
I wish they organised some workshops for children to learn this art form. When i proposed this to Mr. Deepak, he said "art cannot be taught through workshops, it has to be created with imagination, for this the children should have exposure to nature and absorb things around them". Well, very profoundly said.
This rare art is not monetized by the creators. The entry is free and what's more everybody is given a token gift of a hand made doll. The audience are attracted through word of mouth and not through frilled/fancy advertisements.
Those of you in Chennai and Bangalore who have an interest in Indian art and culture can add Bimba to your life. They also have an ethnic creative art hut/store for artifacts, furniture,furnishing,paintings,clothes etc where creative work of genuine artists from village are displayed and sold.
Their address in chennai is 17, temple avenue,srinagar colony,Behind saidapet court,chennai-15
In Bangalore apart from Ratna vilas road, they have an art hut(store) at Jayanagar 4th Block, corner of 36th cross, 5th main.