10 March : Ramayana has been transcending generations and geographical boundaries and now people in the US and Singapore has a chance to know more about the epic popular for its allegorical and engaging storyline.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is organising the “Epic India: Scenes from the Ramayana” exhibition from 31st March till 19th September which will showcase a selection of paintings, sculptures and some textiles depicting scenes from the epic.
According to Naomi Takafuchi, communications officer at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, mythology addresses the moral dilemmas faced in modern life and in this light the Ramayana is particularly effective because of its allegorical and engaging story-line.
“Further, the epic provides insight into the cultural values and rituals of ancient Indian tradition and by extension of the modern period as well. In America, the Ramayana is retold in the form of plays and dance performances and through a variety of media aimed at young people and adults. It bridges generations,” Naomi said.
“Even with little background the general public can appreciate the use of colour and detail to express universally understood psychological moods within the paintings. That they mirror the verses in Valmiki’s epic poem, thus connecting the audience back 2,000 years,” says Takafuchi.
On the other hand, an exhibition titled “Ramayana Revisited: A Tale of Love and Adventure” featuring about 100 artifacts is on at the Peranakan Museum in Singapore from 22nd January and will continue till 22nd August.
The artifacts including shadow puppets, paintings and photographs of ancient monuments, cover different historical and stylistic periods to show how Ramayana was depicted through the ages in different societies.
Highlights of this exhibition include a well-preserved bronze statue of Hanuman from Tamil Nadu which dates back to between the 12th and 13th centuries.
“Our curators have presented Ramayana Revisited through the youthful eyes of Rama’s sons in order to extend the reach of this rich heritage to a broader audience. We are excited to be a part of retelling this ancient epic to yet another generation, and hopefully inspire more to understand the diverse cultures within our shores,” says Michael Koh, acting director of the museum.
The exhibition also includes an interactive game titled “Princes of Ramayana” where visitors can test their gaming skills to overcome evil demons, and save Sita from
Visitors can also view various movies, dramas and other multimedia presentations of the epic on a digital mosaic wall.
Meanwhile, noted Ramayana scholar Indira Goswami has expressed delight over the organizing of the two exhibitions.
“It is great to know that people outside India are taking interest in the Ramayana. The message of the Ramayana is peace and people will know how we have been propagating peace since ages,” she says.
US-based Hindu statesman Rajan Zed has also applauded the Metropolitan Museum for its decision to hold the Ramayana exhibition.
In a statement, he says art has a long and rich tradition in Hinduism and ancient Sanskrit literature talks about religious paintings of deities on wood or cloth.
Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, urged other global museums to organise such exhibitions that showcase the rich Hindu art heritage.