KALABURAGI Trade Festival: Paintings Highlight Current Politics in the Country, Insensitivity of Society Towards Crime Against Women

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Syed Khalique Ahmed

KALABURAGI (GULBARGA), Karnataka | It is quite rare to have a painting exhibition at a trade festival because visitors to a trade show are more interested in knowing about the consumer goods displayed in a business festival. 

However,  the four-day Vyapar Utsav-2023 organized by the Rifah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) here had a section for display of paintings by national awardee painters like Ayazuddin Patel. Besides, there were also some paintings by Russian women artists who also took part in a live painting competition organized in the trade show.

The rush of visitors to the painting gallery indicated the interest of the local people in art and culture. It were the paintings by Ayazuddin Patel and Syed Mohammed Shoaib that were the scenes of attraction for most of the visitors.

One of Patel’s paintings depicted Taj Mahal, the seventh wonder of the world,  being carried away on a cart pulled by railway coolies. The painting shows Taj Mahal being carried to Gulbarga (renamed Kalaburagi) in Karnataka. 

Patel told India Tomorrow that he got this idea after some UP-based politicians stated publicly that they did not want Taj Mahal in their state because it is a symbol of  slavery for them. It was built by Mughal Emperor Shahjahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. The foundation of Taj Mahal was laid in 1631 and it took several years to complete the monument.

The painting mentions 1631 ( the year when Taj Mahal’s foundation was laid) on the coolie’s cart, the badge number every registered coolie is allotted by the railways in India. 

The painting also shows that coolies are carrying the Taj under police protection and has reached a place from where the boundaries of Karnataka is just 696 km. The final destination of Kalaburagi or Gulbarga, which has offered to shelter the Taj as shown in the painting,  is just 24 km from the place where the coolies have arrived with uprooted Taj.

This is only the flight of imagination of a painter but a harsh comment on the state of politics based on hate prevailing in the country for the last several years. The painting also shows the pigeons that were fed by visitors to the Taj, flying away because their source of livelihood has been removed and being carted away to some distant place. This points towards growing insensitivity of the people in authority towards living creatures like birds etc.

Another paintings that drew attention of the visitors is about the general insensitivity of our society towards crime against women. The painting shows a woman subjected to some harsh crime like sexual assault and encircled by barbed wires all around her and a huge crowd watching her plight. No one from the crowd comes forward to help and protect her,  indicating as if the general consciousness of society towards women in distress has died. This is a sad commentary on the moral decadence of Indian society, particularly towards women.

This is quite relevant in the context of some recent incidents of crime against women and in a particular heinous incident in the National Capital Region, a woman was hit by a car and carried away up to four kilometres. Consequently, she died. But neither the accused people stopped the car, nor anyone else made a bid to overtake the vehicle and save the woman’s life. The lesson of the painting is that people in general have become reduced to mere spectators when a woman is subjected to some crime even in public. The painting tries to shake the conscience of the people about our response to women in distress. It raises many questions about Indian society.  Are we really civilized or uncivilized?

A section of the painting gallery also had an exhibition of the coins during the Muslim rule in Gulbarga. Coin collector Mohammed Ismail has tried to portray the Muslim history of this part of India through the coins of different periods of the Muslim rule. This reminds one of the Quranic story of Ashab-e-Kahaf who were recognised from the coins they gave to shopkeepers to buy food. As the coins were about three hundred years old or older than that, the people at that time found out the period to which the Ashab-e-Kahaf belonged. The story of Ashab-e-Kahaf, who woke up after about 300 years or more than that, has been presented as a miracle and power of Allah over everything.

The painting gallery also indicate how the art can help in promoting communal harmony and peace. There are some non-Muslim artists who displayed their paintings on Khana-e-Kaaba (by Shryaansi, a woman painter), which is the most sacred religious place facing towards which Muslims offer five-time daily prayers, the green dome of the Masjid-e-Nabwi (y Subayya Neela) in Madina and Jama Masjid (y Veershetty M. Patil) in Gulbarga Fort. 

This indicates that these painters also acquired some basic knowledge of Islam because paintings of these places was not possible without their understanding of Islam. There are also some Muslim painters like Shahid Pasha who have painted on the theme of Ramayana. By roping in such artists and organizing a painting exhibition, the RCCI, while promoting business, has also tried to bridge gap between communities and promote understanding of each other’s religion through paintings. A very Good job Indeed! RCCI rightfully deserves all Kudos for such an excellent job.

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