Newspaper article The Florida Times Union
Painted Prayers an Exhibit of Ritual Art by Indian Women Is Being Displayed through Sept. 20 at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens
Last weekend, Padma Subramanian planned to introduce her
11-year-old daughter, Sangeetha, to one of the traditions of
their Indian heritage.
It was a tradition Padma Subramanian's mother taught her when
she was only 5 while in Pudukkotai, a small Indian village. It's
something she says she'll never forget.
The tradition, known as painted prayers, is religiously
significant in India and has been around for at least 1,000
years, said Mary Linda, assistant director for the Cummer Museum
of Art & Gardens in Riverside, where a painted prayer exhibit
The Subramanians, who visit the Cummer often, are excited about
the museum's new photo exhibit, Painted Prayers: The Ritual Art
of the Women of India, in which the tradition is portrayed by
photographer and author Stephen Huyler of Maine.
The exhibit, which opened June 15, continues through Sept. 20.
Huyler, who spent an average of four months each year during the
last 27 years photographing Indian family traditions, will
discuss his photography and the ritual art of Indian women at
the museum on Sept. 8.
The focus of Huyler's displayed work is rituals of practical
Hinduism, especially the daily devotion of India.
At least once a year in some Indian states and every day in
others, women create sacred drawings or paintings as part of
their religious rituals. Hindus living in India believe that a
goddess protects their homes, and that her spirit spreads
throughout the structure of each house and prevents misfortune
Using a combination of rice flour or mud and cow dung, Indian
women paint colorful symbols, shapes and figures in various
sizes on the exterior walls of their homes, on floors and on the
ground to honor the goddess and bring good luck. That's why
they're called painted prayers.
Some of the drawings are of animals. Others are simple images
or designs such as dots and geometric patterns. …