Udaipur is well-known for lakes and natural beauty of its landscape. The Old city of Udaipur is a hub of various art forms that are unique to Udaipur. Local artists create these paintings and sculptures following traditions of their forefathers. To relive these cultures one has to visit these areas to have a glimpse of the folk customs from their own eyes.
One such art form is ‘Sanjhi’.
This exclusive art form where the canvas is not any cloth or paper, but sheer water is called Jal Sanjhi. Sanjhi is made from the patripada to Amavasya of Ashwin for fifteen days but the preparations start a day earlier on Bhado Purnima.
As one legend says, these paintings came into origin when Lord Krishna’s image was seen in the water by ‘Radha’ in a pond, and the image was outlined with flowers to make a picture of the Lord. Since then it has evolved as Sanjhi which are made to honor the Lord Krishna’s ‘Leela’ in the form of pictorial depiction on water.
In accordance with the above information, Sanjhi paintings are made complimenting Lord Krishna before the onset of the festive season of Navratri. Over 300 years old, this rare art has been kept alive by just a family in Udaipur, who has been practicing it for generations now.
Rajesh Pancholi is the artist that we came in contact; the family has been practicing this art since generations and as per his nephew, Gunjan Pancholi, he is the fourth generation practicing and observing this art.
How are these paintings made?
As described by the Pancholi family and what I watched, I am going to describe it for all you curious people.
We searched for the family and finally got to know where they stay. We waited for the month before the onset of the Navratri season so that we could see it happening in front of us.
As per Gunjan, this art was started in Mathura by his ancestors. These paintings were earlier created for 15 days but due to lack of interest of people and rising inflation (the colors have become expensive), it is quite difficult for them to meet the expenses.
The tale of Lord Krishna with the ‘Shesh Naag’ known as the Naag Leela is what we watched, step by step. It took around three and a half hours to complete the entire painting- floating on clear water.
First and foremost the water is treated one night prior and then placed in a huge vessel where it is made to settle. Once settled, a base color is made to float on water. The base color is spread on the water by the use of a fine sieve little by little. The colors are true stone colors which are used after processing, which turns them turn into a fine powder and increases the ease of use.
After the completion of the base (generally white color), the stencils are kept cautiously on the base to execute the process.
Now talking of the stencils, these used by the Pancholi family are made from thin rice papers and are almost 300 years old. Their forefathers drew on them and cut them. These stencils are preserved by the family and used till date.
One by one these stencils is kept gently on the base color taking reference points. Slowly and gradually the painting emerges into its full shape and exquisiteness. For each step, there is one stencil, even for the flowers and ornamentation. It took 9 stencils to complete the Naag Leela. The last stencil was just for the outline. Real flower petals and sparkles also are included in embellishing the painting.
After Jal Sanjhi being made for three days, the fourth day a more elaborate Sanjhi is made of wood, which carries more intricate work of colors and stencils. The fifth day again marks a creation of Jal Sanjhi. It is a must see!
I was enthralled by the finesse, precision, and patience these artists have. Their hands work very tenderly creating a very fragile art. The beauty lies in the details and the delicacy with which they perform this sacred ritual of creating a divine folk art.
Wanna see these paintings?
Jal Sanjhi is a delight for every art lover. These paintings are open for public viewing every evening at their temple in the Old City during the course of the ‘Shrad Paksha’.
The wood Sanjhi will be made on 19 September 2017. You can visit and see this amazing art form live! Let us know if you went and watched the Sanjhi Art Form.
Address: Shri Radha Vallab Ji Mandir, 14 Jagdish Mandir Road.
Time: 7 pm to 10 pm
Have a look at this amazing painting!