‘Saanjhi’ folk art festival concludes in Braj

  • By Jigisha Kulshreshtha

2022.09.25 (Vrindavan Today News): The Fortnight long ‘Saanjhi Mahotsava’ concludes in Braj – Vrindavan on Sunday. The Pastimes of Shri Krishna were depicted with colors and water in the temples of Shri Radharaman, Shri Radha Ballabh, Shri Madan Mohan (Bhatt ji Mandir), Shri Govinda Dev (Shahjahapur), Shri Priya Ballabh temples of Vrindavan. This year the ‘Saanjhi Mahotsava’ outreached to the community by crossing the boundaries of the temples. It was celebrated at the Vrindavan Research Institute and Raskhan’s Samadhi. Some ancient less known temples revived the tradition by initiating the ‘Forgotten Art’.

Saanjhi at Shri Bhatt ji Mandir (PC: Shri Sushant Bharti

Braj is known for Shri Krishna and His pastimes. The Devotees believe that Shri Krishna is always present in Braj and perform His Lilas transcendentally. They celebrate different events to commemorate the pastimes of Shri Krishna. They celebrate Krishna by visiting the places of His pastimes, singing the ‘padavalis’ in His glory, staging the Raslila theatre, by orating the Krishna Lila and by depicting His pastimes with colors on the ‘Pitru Paksha’.

The Traditional Braj folk art of Saanjhi was struggling for survival for last few decades, but the dedicated work of some artists and organizations has brought awareness among the people about this forgotten art. In earlier times the ritual of ‘Saanjhi making’ was practiced in many temples, but this art is depicted only in few temples.

 The ancient folk art, which has origin in Braj had flourished for several centuries in the temples of Braj and the homes of Brajwasis. It was in last few decades the art was being lost and it has been limited to some selected temples.

Saanjhi at Shri Bhatt ji Mandir (PC: Shri Sushant Bharti)

The folk art has evolved through three stages – folk, poetic and temples. A fortnight long autumnal festival is celebrated during the dark fortnight in the month of September – October.  The folk art of Saanjhi involves composing and drawing motifs from the pastimes of Shri Krishna, Cutting a stencil, using a small, fine custom made scissor on paper or banana leaves and the using stencil to create the images. The artwork is used to decorate the temples, the Sanctum Sanctorum and Kirtan Sabhas. Like all other forms have to move with the changing times and its demands, Saanjhi is no exception. It was due to certain loss in artistic sensibility and understanding the content of art, the major transformation in that ‘Saanjhi’ art has undergone is from being piece of art produced with flowers and colors, used mainluy for temple worship to a stencil used to create final image. With the focus shifting from image maker to stencil cutter, the ritualistic and religious significance of Saanjhi is lost. The suspense of revealing the image in the evening inside the temple premises is gradually dying.

Institutions like Vrindavan Research Institute has been working to revive the lost culture of Braj. Every year it has been organizing workshops for ‘Saanjhi’ making.

Ten Days long Saanjhi Mahotsava celebrated at Vrindavan Research Institute

In a bid to revive the dying artwork of Saanjhi of Braj, a ten day’s long Saanjhi Mahotsava was organised by the Vrindavan Research Institute.  Apart from exhibiting titled ‘Braj Sanjhi Expansion and it’s Varieties’; training workshops, verse singing with traditional teachers and artists of Saanjhi were conducted. Devotees and onlookers were overwhelmed by learning about art form through exhibition. The ten day long program was organized at Madan Ter, located on the Vrindavan Parikrama, under the auspices of the ‘Vrindavan Research Institute’.

Traditional Stencil of Saamjhi displayed at VRI

Shri Hit Radhesh Lal Goswami, Acharya from Shri Radhaballabh temple said that the seekers of Braj have experienced deep understanding of ‘Saanjhi’ in their life. The immense literature composed by the saints of Braj keeping this tradition at the center shows the importance of the art work in itself. Shri Hit Anand Lal Goswami said that not only the culture lovers but the pilgrims coming from remote areas had gotten an opportunity to learn from the festival organized by the institute . Director Dr. Ajay Kumar Pandey told that the valuable reference related to this tradition should be shared amongst the general public through training workshops, exhibitions and subject related discussion etc.

Raskhan Samadhi became Centre of attraction for Eight Days

The Celebration of the folk art of Saanjhi in Gokul’s Mahavan concluded on Sunday. The Eight day long festival became the centre of attraction for the admirers of the art & culture. Several eminent artists participated in the festival and exhibited their art.

UP Braj Teerth Vikas Parishad in collaboration with the GLA University organised Saanjhi Mahotsava at the Samadhi of Raskhan and Chand Bibi in Mahavan. The weak long festival was inaugurated on 18th September jointly by UPBTVP Deputy CEO Pankaj Verma and the Pro-Vice Chancellor of GLA University Shri Anoop Gupta. The Cultural Event was supported by the Department of UP Tourism, State Museum and Braj Sanskriti Shodh Sansthan.

Artists were seen depicting their art with the dry colors, cow dung and flowers. The artists were felicitated with the mementos and certificate.  A seminar on ‘Saanjhi’ was held at the newly built conference hall at the Raskhan Samadhi with the support from the GLA University. GLA University’s Pro-Vice Chancellor Shri Anoop Kumar Gupta said that the GLA University and UP Braj Teerth Vikas Parishad have jointly taken initiative to protect the culture of Braj and promote it in the different platforms. UPBTVP Deputy CEO Pankaj Verma said that UPBTVP is committed to preserve the heritage and culture of Braj. It will organise more such events in coming times. The contribution of different artists, historians, cultural experts made the event memorable.

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