Meera at the Harvard Art Museum

pictures from the Harvard Art Museum Cambridge by Arun Shanbhag

For many years, Harvard’s Fogg Museum showcasing a beautiful collection of 19th century French and American art, was one of my favorite past-times in Boston. Harvard also hosted a unique Degas at Harvard exhibition – Degas: Of Dancers and Bathers. A few years ago, Harvard undertook a major renovation of the Fogg Museum, expanded it, and brought together collections from the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Arthur Sackler Museum and Fogg Museum. This was my first visit to the renovated and renamed Harvard Art Museums with Meera as a curious companion. Thankfully, they did not change the main layout and courtyard, but extended the side wings and added a Louvre-style, roof top glass pyramid.

Meera had a wonderful time reading the layout map and leading me from section to section. She was particularly intrigued and recognized the portraits of American Presidents. Obviously this first grader thought all the renaissance paintings with scantily clad women were “gross”. She was terrified of peering into the courtyard from the upper level verandahs. This is not the Chhatrapati Shivaji Museum and I was not expecting a plethora of Indian art – they had a 13th century Chola bronze of Shri Rām, a few pieces of Buddha and other miscellaneous artwork.

We had a wonderful meal at the cafe and ended our visit at the gift shop – Meera’s favorite. She did say she liked the Harvard Museum of Natural History better and I promised her a return trip this week.

This day I loved this work by the 16th century, Italian Baroque painter, Orazio Gentileschi – Virgin and the Sleeping Christ; see how kindly she shields the child with her diaphanous veil.

pictures from the Harvard Art Museum Cambridge by Arun Shanbhag
Orazio Gentileschi – Virgin with Sleeping Christ, 1610


Agniteertham in Rāmeshwaram

photos from Agniteertham in Rameshwaram by Arun Shanbhag
Devotees throng Rameshwaram to take a dip in the sanctifying waters of Agniteertham

Just in time for Ram Navami


Visiting the island of Rameshwaram is considered a most auspicious pilgrimage; here Hindus pay their respects to Ramnathaswamy (Shiva) and it is one of 12 sacred Jyotirlingams. Continue reading “Agniteertham in Rāmeshwaram”

MahāShivrātri at Rāmnāthi

Photos of MahaShivaratri Festival at Ramnathi Goa by Arun Shanbhag
Ramnath Dev being taken out on a Phalki

|| Om Namah Shivay ||
Wishing you all an auspicious Maha Shivratri


More on the Ramnathi Devasthan Goa:


Enjoy these pictures from the Maha Shivratri Utsav at Ramnathi Devasthan, Goa

Monks at the Pashupatinath Temple, Nepal

In an ancient stone portico (bhojan mandap) outside the Pashupatinath Temple (Kathmandu, Nepal), several sanyasinis (female monks) were resting and enjoying meals. Here donors arrange free meals for monks and the needy. Loved the colors.
Continue reading “Monks at the Pashupatinath Temple, Nepal”

Ganesh Chaturthi – The Day Before

Picture photograph of Ganapati murthy, Ganesh utsav murthy during Ganesh Chaturthi by Arun Shanbhag
After a few days respite in Goa and Kumta, we returned home for the Ganesh Chaturthi Utsav (festival). Over the next few days, our extended family home transformed into a festive temple. Resident cooks arrived and made traditional Konkani snacks (chivda, mando, shankar paLLan, masala shaenga, chuklee, etc). Siblings and cousins descended on our home. Professional flower stringers decorated our main hall in elaborate arrangements of plump marigolds. Humongous pots and pans, giant oil lamps and other puja accompaniments were retrieved from storage and polished to a high gleam. Continue reading “Ganesh Chaturthi – The Day Before”

Great Penance: Descent of the Ganga

Photos of the Great penance descent of the Ganga Mamallapuram by Arun Shanbhag
Mamallapuram, about an hour south of Chennai along the East coast, hosts India’s largest and most dramatic relief-sculpture. It represents the celebrated myth of the descent of the river Ganga from heaven to earth. The Great Penance, is carved on a giant granite rock wall 27 meters wide and 9 meters tall, and was believed to be initiated during the reign of the Pallava King Mahendra Varman, ca 7th century ce.

While a traditional sculpture (or other work of art) would memorialize a climactic scene, this Great Penance is depicted as a “continuous narrative,” wherein multiple scenes from a series of events are portrayed on the same canvas, permitting the observer to focus on different parts of the work and recollect different scenes in the narrative. The more details one observes and associates, the more richer the experience.
Continue reading “Great Penance: Descent of the Ganga”

Cave Temples of Badami

Cave Temples of Badami

The Cave Temples of Badami in Northern Karnataka are part of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site. They are well maintained, and the sculptures are mind blowingly exquisite. Highly recommended. The above is an image of Shiva as Nataraja, Lord of the Dance. Apparently, his 9 arms on each side create the 81 combinations of Bharatnatyam poses.
Continue reading “Cave Temples of Badami”

Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu, Nepal

You need to be called to participate in a yatra (pilgrimage). Without the assent of the Gods, any number of obstacles, reasons, excuses will crop up and prevent you for participating. Even in our family group, many dropped out for various reasons. I count my blessing that I could make this happen.

The yatra was difficult and at times fraught with danger. Appropriate then that we started by paying our respects to Shiva in the form of Pashupatinath (Lord and Caretaker of All Living Beings). He is the patron deity of Nepal and his temple in Kathmandu is worthy of a separate visit.

The temple dates to the 8th century (or earlier) with many later renovations. The Shiva linga is an imposing 3-4 ft tall with humanoid Shiva faces at each of the cardinal sides. The four faces on the linga are called: Tatpurush (East face), Aghora (South face), Sadjyota (West face) and Vamadeva (North face). The top surface facing the sky is called Ishaan. These are the names of the four side of Mount Kailash – the abode of Shiva-Parvati, and our final destination.

Above is the quadrangle leading to the entrance of the temple. On entering, you see the back of an imposing gold covered Nandi (bull) on a raised pedestal, facing the Shiva linga in devotion.
pics of Nandi at entryway of Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu, Nepal by Arun Shanbhag

The linga is placed in a small square garbha gudi with doors at each face. Devotees can walk around the linga on a raised walkway. Priests at each doors accept offerings of flowers and bael leaves, place it briefly on the linga and bring back the prasad. Around the garbha gudi, Nepali women in bright red sarees light oil lamps and chant prayers. It was a beautiful scene – one I wish I had more time to savor.

The temple complex is a huge pavilion with 20-30 mini shrines around the periphery of the Shiva linga. Notable are the fierce-looking, bronze Kaala-Bhairav and a small temple with 125 lingas arranged in a maze. The lingas are placed knee high and as you walk the maze, you can touch all the lingas. Nice! There is a public cremation ghat right beside the temple, which I was not prepared to visit.

These kids were tending shoes and chappals outside the temple. They should have been in school instead! Rather than place money in the temple hundi, I gave money to these boys. They were puzzled, but accepted it. I intentionally over-paid the women selling flowers. They quoted in Nepali rupees, while I paid in India rupees (=1.6 Nepali Rs).
pics of boys tending chappals at Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu, Nepal by Arun Shanbhag

A beautiful temple. Wish I had more time to experience this sacred place fully – would prolly require a whole day. Also wished they allowed photography inside the temple complex, so I could share the ambience with you all.


Kailash Manasarovar Travelogue continues: Monks at the Pashupatinath Temple
To start at beginning of Travelogue: Rendevous with Sagarmatha (Everest)

Rendezvous with Sāgarmāthā (Everest)

 

Just returned from a 19-day Kailash-Manasarovar Tirth Yatra (pilgrimage).

We flew to Kathmandu, Nepal, got pinned in the midst of a mob-military firefight at the Nepal-Tibet border, and dashed across the Tibetan plateau. Here land cruisers go off-road, over hills, down valleys, through swollen streams, and over crumbling embankments. Five days later when we reached Manasarovar – the highest fresh water lake at an altitude of 15,000 ft, I was blabbering sick. High fever, body aches, and the ubiquitous high altitude-associated symptoms: chest ripping cough, persistent headaches, nausea and blurry vision. Throw in an asthma attack for good measure. And we were only getting started. Continue reading “Rendezvous with Sāgarmāthā (Everest)”

Mangeshi Devasthan, Goa

This follows a longer write-up on the Ramnathi Devasthān.

The Mangeshi Devasthān in Goa is a crown jewel of Konkani Temples. The an-iconic form of Shiva, the linga representing Mangesh, was originally in the ancient temple of Kushastali (Cortalim, Salcete Taluka). When the Portuguese destroyed the original temple in 1561, the linga was relocated across the Zuari River near other konkani temples. The current temple was constructed on land donated by a devotee in the mid- 1800’s and has been renovated several times.

Continue reading “Mangeshi Devasthan, Goa”

Rāmnāthi Devasthān, A Konkani Temple

Main entrance and Deepa Sthamba (light tower) at the Ramnathi Devasthan, Goa
Main entrance and Deepa Sthamba (light tower) at the Ramnathi Devasthan

The Shanteri Kamakshi Ramnath Devasthan (place of God, or Temple) in Ponda, Goa is our family's ancestral temple. Millenia ago, groups of Konkani families settled in extended family-based communities in Goa. Each community had their own spirits, which protected them from evil and satisfied their spiritual curiosity. The spirits and associated deities also received gratitude for agricultural and female fertility. With time, these spirits evolved into a full-blown God. Ramnath was the benevolent God of our community. His two spouses (Shanteri & Kamakshi) probably represented the heightened fertility required for survival in those days. And we have our own ferocious spirit – Betal, who is responsible for ‘taking care’ of evil. Continue reading “Rāmnāthi Devasthān, A Konkani Temple”

Cucumber Seller Smiles

photos of a woman selling cucumbers at the Mangeshi Temple Goa by Arun Shanbhag

Outside the Mangeshi Devasthan in Goa, this lady sold sliced cucumbers. It's a refreshing snack on a hot day. As I composed the pic, I fretted about this guy walking across, but then I noticed her face light up at an approaching customer. For her brilliant smile, and inviting pose, she deserved a post of her own.

photos of a woman selling cucumbers at the Mangeshi Temple Goa by Arun Shanbhag

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