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India - Paradise in a Hut or Hut in Paradise
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Golos Armenii newspaper (Russian language daily)

3 February 2015

India - Paradise in a hut or hut in paradise

A photo exhibition was opened on January 27 at the National Gallery of Armenia, which was dedicated to India, specifically, to its northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, which is sometimes referred to as the "crown of the country." After all, if you look at the map closely, a curious look will notice that it resembles a majestic tiara crowning the "forehead" of India. The exhibition is titled "Paradise on Earth" and is devoted to the 65th anniversary of the establishment of an independent Republic.

The grand opening ceremony was attended by Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of India to Armenia, Mr. Suresh Babu, Director of "Lotus" cultural development NGO, Ms. Marina Papian, with whose efforts it was possible to hold this event, and, of course, the director of the National Gallery, Mr. Paravon Mirzoyan, who got the exhibition under the his hospitable roof.

The coordinator of the exhibition Marina Papyan says: "Four years ago, I went to India as a journalist on an exchange program to study mass communication. A year later, I learned that other cultural programs are also in the pipeline and, and began to solicit in the Embassy to that our artists could see this heavenly country. As a result, five Armenian artists visited different cities of India for two weeks, and their impressions afterwards culminated in the marvel-exhibition, which we opened in Armenia. Today's opening is a logical continuation of our work. 82 photos were sent to us, we even restored some of them. India is a fairyland, it is truly a paradise on earth, and by the way, its nature, colors are very similar to Armenia. The people are very warm and kind. But this is completely different civilization, a different attitude, a deep view of the world, a wise philosophy. In short, the East is a delicate matter".

The exhibition was preceded by a concert and film screening. The "Armenian side" of the mini-concert was presented by ensemble "Zangakner", Hakob Khalatyan and Harutyun Chkolyan - masters of playing on kamancha and duduk, as well as dance group "Victoria". Then Indian performers came to change ours. A delicate Indian girl in a sari of blue azure color demonstrated a sizzling dance, full of rich palette of feelings. A whole range of emotions reflected on her face when she portrayed overflowing emotions to the audience, recalling the mysterious and enigmatic East and the people living there. Then the visitors became spectators of a remarkable documentary "India: unity in diversity", created by Orientalist, YSU teacher Naira Mkrtchyan, with the support of information-analytical agency "Armedia" within the framework of special cultural program.

Naira Mkrtchyan spoke about the "Indian trace" in her biography: "Since childhood I loved India, and as a grown-up, I had a unique opportunity to do my post-graduation in Jawaharlal Nehru University. As for the film, we tried to present India as a country of contrasts. However, with many differences, Indians live in harmony together - they are a single entity. More than a billion people live there, a lot of nationalities who profess different religions, but they managed to find their "formula of life" - which, unfortunately, is missing in us. India has still preserved the caste system: the Brahmins - the priests, scholars and ascetics, the Kshatriyas - warriors and rulers; Vaishyas - farmers, artisans and merchants; Shudras - wage laborers and servants. And how many languages! A Babylon! But I was shocked by their degree of tolerance for each other."

So, 82 photographs are presented in one exhibition space. Exhibition can be divided into 10 theme parts: "Nature and the elements", "Seasons", "Water as a source of life," "House and Life", "Work and Crafts," "Fishing," "Faith, religion", "Architecture", "Tourist Attractions", "History of the country, its colonial past"... The splendid nature of the country, its rivers, lakes, islands, mustard fields and green pastures... idyllic pastoral! A further four earthly elements, and in the center - God, the supreme creation.

Indians are mostly pantheists. They believe that God is manifested in everything that he had crated, and above all - in nature and man. Seasons - blooming spring, dry hot summer, golden autumn, snowy winter and spring again... which starts only with the blossoming of narcissuses for every Indian. And the famous rainy season is when the water here is revered most.

A separate part of the exhibition is devoted to the home, household, lifestyle of Indians, as well as the kitchen, preparing a meal, which sometimes turns into a ritual. Each ne had a samovar on the table, from which they drink the famous Indian salty tea. Indians accept a guest as the messenger of gods - he is to be treated well and accompanied to up to his abode, and sometimes taken for a walk, for example, to the bazaar, colorful and noisy, where you can buy a sari or a scarf. Crafts are very appreciated in this country. Crafts, embroidery, weaving work - and as a result of those same markets are full of Pashmina, colorful fabrics and wool. Pottery and papermaking are a separate matter. And most importantly - a creative approach to everything you do. Even for Fisheries. There are original boats in which Indians not only do fishing, but sometimes they live there.

India is a country of 1000 and 1 religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Sufism, Islam... Sanctuaries, mosques, ancient caves, seminaries, the famous "Temples of the Sun" - it seems that these are celestial structures. Swastika as a symbol of eternity adorns many of them. Temples are decorated with sculptures, which are like a delicate embroidery, are covering the stone as a delicate lace. And right next to it one can see urban development, high flight of engineering mind of Indians. Finally, a separate part of the exhibition is devoted to the history of the country, its glorious past, rulers, aristocratic dynasties and the establishment of a free and independent republic, acquisition of sovereignty. Looking at the old archival photographs, you realize that, however, Indians feel grateful to the British. In fact, besides the colonial past, the UK largely contributed to the development of the country - laid the railway network across the country, developed communication between towns and villages.

"Living in India, I thought a lot that we, Armenians, are a small nation and it should be possible to run the country properly, develop it, take care of the residents. We do not know how to be tolerant and appreciative. And most importantly - we cannot take life easily. While Indians are happy by a simple fact that the Sun rises every day for them and a new days starts. They have a very simple life and a very strong faith in God. It gives them joy and hope. They believe that you must not do evil, but only good, because all that evil, sooner or later, will come back like a boomerang", concludes Orientalist Naira Mkrtchyan.


By Maria Tokmajyan


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