The Devotion Of Artists

Last week my little brother got married. It was such a wonderful event and I’m so happy for him. His new wife is everything I could want in a sister-in-law! We didn’t have to do anything for the wedding, just show up. It was so much fun to see both sides of our family for the weekend. It was very emotional too.

The wedding ceremony took place in a Catholic church as the bride and her family are Catholic. My brother, I think, is kind of indifferent to religion. He has an easy going manner and accepts whatever comes along. He doesn’t seem to need to label himself the way I do.

I did also have a chance to talk with one of his friends that we grew up with in our cult about that experience and how it was different between girls and boys. It was a really interesting discussion.

The only weird part in the ceremony was at the end when the priest asked us all to raise our right hands to give a blessing prayer to the couple. Fine and good except the other side of the church everyone raised their right hands with their arms stick straight. In other words it looked like a bunch of people doing the sieg heil salute. Super creepy!

But anyway… Right above the altar was a large crucifix, not surprisingly. And it was kind of gruesome. I took a picture:

IMG_6106

But as I looked at it I started wondering about the person who created it.

Someone must have sculpted this. Taken time to add every smear of blood. I wondered if the people who make Jesus statues do it as an act of devotion the way the carver of a murti might. Some of our Gods (Kali comes to mind) can look gruesome too.

Is it an act of love towards God to make these images?

Or, as a friend I was talking to about this post suggested, is it just stamped out in a factory?

 

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What Makes Me A Hindu?

Did I Start Out Christian?

Why Am I Called “The White Hindu”?

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Hinduism 101: What Do Hindus Believe?

Can I Convert To Hinduism?

Your First Visit To A Hindu Temple

Super Simple Daily Puja

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Ch Billy

    I can speak for the Mutris (i.e. Vigrahas, Murti = idol, Vigraha = deity) and not for the sculptures of Jesus Christ. There are vigrahas that are udbhava i.e. naturally occurring or not man-made. They usually are discovered in certain places either under ground or over ground. They are cleaned and usually, a shrine/temple is built around in the exact same place where they are discovered. These temples and shrines are the more famous ones. There is the other type of vigrahas which are man-made. These are carved by communities who have practiced this skill since generations and do it in devotion. They either carve it out of a specific granite stone meant for vigrahas or they forge it out of metal (gold or copper or brass) using ancient Indian metallurgical techniques. Both the molten metal and the stone is “putrified” i.e. made shuddha using certain recommended practices before making vigrahas out of them. Once the vigraha is made, a priest or a sadhu will do prana prathishta i.e. invite the God/Goddess through an elaborate process to inhabit the deity and accept the service of the devotees. Thankfully, none of the vigrahas used in temples or small shrines even today are churned out in factories (at least I have not heard of any so far).

    Now, let us talk about murtis. Murtis are temporary figurines used for a specific occasion like Ganesha Chaturthi (Ganesha Mutri), Durga Pooja (Durga Murti), Ram Leela during Dusshera (Ravana Murti along with people with make-up as Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman) or Govardhan Puja during Diwali (Radha-Krishna Murti or just Krishna as child i.e. Damodara Murti). They are usually made of disposable materials like clay, cardboard or sometimes (unfortunately) plastic. They are discarded as soon as the occasion is done but in a specific way like drowning in the local water body if made of clay and burning with fiery arrows if made of cardboard or reusing next year if made of plastic. These murtis or temporary figurines are designed by a lot of trained craftsmen from different religions (even Muslims and Christians) with devotion and sometimes (unfortunately) churned in factories. However, I do ideally want even murtis to be always designed by craftsmen or individuals with devotion instead of factories. It will help keep the personal aspect of religion intact.

    I am really interested to know who exactly makes Jesus Christ sculptures for Catholics and how it is made. It will be interesting to get perspectives from Catholics around the world because I know Catholics in India (specifically Syrian Catholics in Kerala, Mangalore and Goa) make these sculptures the Hindu style. I am interested to know the European and South American counterparts and if they are same or different.