He knelt beside a stone vat filled with clear water and started arranging the petals in the bowl. I stared mesmerised as his hands deftly, in a matter of seconds, crafted out a beautiful pattern of floating petals. It was almost as if he was arranging it on an invisible pattern that only his eyes could see on the water. One last flourish, and he walked away with his basket to the next water bowl.
My mind drifted to the Lakshmi footprints my mother would draw with rice powder paste from the doorway to the puja room every Lakshmi puja. The garlands of sewli flowers my sister and I would make for the Xorai ( offering) on Uruka morning.
The dreamlike patterns women weave into their looms everyday , for the most gorgeous sarees and fabric. The skill with which aunts adorn the brides with the sandalwood bindi patterns on the wedding day.
The expertise with which the neighbourhood vegetable and fruit vendor arranges his wares every morning, creating a riot of colours that appeal to every taste bud.
The speed and alacrity with which my mother and her friends would knit every winter, making us beautiful patterened shawls and cardigans, sometimes recycling old wool. The embroidery of demure brides as they shyly displayed their pillow cases and napkin and cushion covers.
The calender artists, the firework boxes, the trucks that roll across the heartlands of India in all their painted glory. The lightsmen of ChandanNagar, the craftsmen who make our Pujas so fascinating with the Divine idols, the puppet makers who make our childhood so much fun.....
All this and so much more.
There is an artist in each one of us.
Art resides in us, and around us.
We all live art, we appreciate art and art is what makes everyday memorable in a small way.
I write this piece today in all humility. Reminding myself that art is not just a talent. It is a spirit that lives in each of us. And every piece or work of art, big or small, deserves appreciation.
The smile on the young man's face as my daughter and I complimented him on his patterned floral art reflected that.