Vraja : Krishna’s Playground

Robyn Beeche, the well known photographer, associated with the IGNCA’S Vraja Prakalpa project, has documented the yearly rituals and the festivals of Vraja since 1983. The IGNCA presented an exhibition of her photographs between 27 December, 1996 – 18 January, 1997, capturing the essence of the culture of Vraja manifested in the landscape, in architecture, daily devotions and celebrations.

Some of her photographs were vivid depictions of the way the deity is treated in daily worship with adornment and decorations specifically designed to the time of the day and season. She captured the daily service to Krishna which comprises his food (bhog) and finery (sringara), as also the adornments and the decoration of the temple.

The most spectacular were those that displayed the riotous colour and frenzied joy of the celebrants during the Holi festival in spring; and the preparation of a flower house, phul-bangala of Krishna. The anointation ceremony (abhisheka) of Krishna, the moving stances of the rasalila, enacted by young children, the cowdung figure of Krishna lifting the Govardhan mountain, the swing festival, the geometric and stylistic perfection of floor designs Sanjhis, made by sprinkling powders though stencils depicting scences from Krishna’s life, were some of the other themes photographed by her.

Explaining the various moods of worship, Robyn Beeche mentions, “I see this exhibition as a way of the viewer being able to experience this living space of Vraja, of appreciating these age old traditions which are being kept alive for generations to come. It is by documenting them that I wish to help perpetuate their existence within a rapidly changing society.”


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