Time for a Little Shopping in Orissa

We wake to a grey, damp day; very unseasonal weather. It seems there is a depression hanging over Sri Lanka and feeding North to the Bay of Bengal. Time to go shopping.

Despite the weather the beach is crowded. Yet more enthusiastic holidaymakers, having the time of their life, still dodging the high breakers and trying to avoid being knocked over. Other more philosophical visitors are sitting in brightly coloured plastic chairs quietly watching the ocean. I realise that many of these Indians have never seen the sea before. They are in a state of wonder and delight.

We head for the local Government handicraft shop to check out the Orissan art scene. Delicate silver filigree work, small wrought iron objects many with tribal themes, wooden carvings, silk saris printed with traditional patterns, small black and white paintings of local tribal activities and people. (The stick like figures remind me of Lowry’s paintings,) There’s also the famous Piri appliqué work which incorporates animal and bird fabric cut outs which are sewn on to a brightly coloured background material. This is then made into cushion covers and bedspreads. Alternatively, should you wish to have something more inspirational for the bedroom, there are a variety of wall hangings made from delicate palm leaves and exquisitely adorned with Indian erotic art.

But Lord Jagganath rules supreme. The shops are crammed with souvenirs of the deity; paintings, key rings, dashboard items, wall hangings, fabrics and sets of these three small wooden gods (a sort of Trinity). The Lord Jagganath small and not so small pieces are carved from the Neen tree as indeed is the real god in the nearby temple. They are like Aztec cubic warriors. How can I resist? I am sure Ganesh, at home in Arbroath, will understand and welcome these Indian juggernauts.

(Incidentally, Jaganath is where our word juggernaut originates from)

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