Tuesday May 22, 2018

Sitabinji: This Odisha village has a link to Ramayana & houses a 1500-yr-old Fresco art

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Sitabinji Caves

By Prateek Kumar

The ancient kingdom of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka in 261 BC resulting in the bloody Kalinga War, coincides with the modern day Odisha. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April 1936, as a province in British India and consisted predominantly of Oriya speaking regions. In this eastern state of India lies the hub of ancient painting, Sitabinji.

Sitabinji, a village near Keonjar district of Odisha is popularly known for the conservation of an ancient painting form created by tempera method. The 1300 to 1500 years old painting lies in between two giant boulders known as Ravana Chhaya. The place attained its name after the stream Sita that flows nearby.

According to Hindu Mythology, the name Ravana Chhaya means the “Shadow of Ravana”, the King of Lanka.

Architecture

There is a gap between two rock boulders of granite with a beautiful tempera art which is not linked with any religious beliefs and shows the prospect of royal procession. The bigger boulder is inclined towards smaller boulder, making a triangular gap in between which is  6.7 m in height and 4.7 m in depth.

Significance

The significance of the cave can be mapped in the ancient times, even before the art work was created. The cave was used by the followers of lord Shiva around 4th – 6th century AD. There they worshipped Mukha Linga, the linga with four faces of lord Shiva that still exist in the Sitabinji region and depicts that lord Shiva was very popular in Odisha during the 5th century AD.

Archaeology

The site contains fragments of bricks with Pali inscriptions. Soapstone figurines and Kushan coins were also found in the region along with the paintings older than Mesolithic period which is sometimes also referred as “the paintings of Sitabinji.”

Historical Significance

The tempera art form of Ravana Chhaya can be called as a marvel attained in ancient times. The rough layer of granite was smoothened with an aid of lime before carving the painting on a big boulder of rock, which is done with great perfection and dedication. The painting depicts the royal procession as a royal figure sitting on an elephant with a sword in hand, followed by women attendants and a few horsemen which is very less in common with Hindu religion. The theme of this carving is considered as a shelter for a royal retreat while hunting.

Below the painting there are verses inscribed in Sanskrit that describes the scene and its history. The engraved stone shows the name of king as Maharaja Sri Disabhanja, considered to be the earliest Bhanja king.

Different measures have been adopted by the government to preserve this ancient architecture as Keonjar is an industrial hub of India and can lead to the destruction of these historical pieces of art.  Furthermore, to protect the painting from water and other hazards, authorities have made a channel to clear the water from the rocks and have created a porch outside the cave. But unfortunately, the lower part of the painting is destroyed despite adopting all the protective measures.

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Copyright 2015 NewsGram

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The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) is a non-partisan advocacy organization for the Hindu American community.
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Yesterday a Plano, Texas teenager was arrested after he revealed his plot to carry out a mass shooting, in what is being reported as an ISIS-inspired attack. Among the targets reportedly considered by the suspect, were a school, local Hindu temple, and shopping mall. The latter was ultimately the chosen target.

Dr. Rajiv Pandit, HAF Board Member and local Dallas community leader, offered the following statement:

“The Hindu American Foundation thanks both local and Federal law enforcement officials for their diligence and work on this case. We’re grateful the suspect was caught in time, saving innumerable lives. While it has not been made public which Hindu temple was a potential target — there are over twenty in the area — the Foundation urges all houses of worship to use this incident as a reminder and opportunity to review their existing emergency operations plan.”

The Hindu American Foundation thanks both local and Federal law enforcement officials for their diligence and work on this case.
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The Department of Homeland Security’s Guide for Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Houses of Worship offers invaluable information for temples to start implementing a plan, if they do not already have one in place.

ABOUT HAF

The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) is a non-partisan advocacy organization for the Hindu American community. The Foundation educates the public about Hinduism, speaks out about issues affecting Hindus worldwide, and builds bridges with institutions and individuals whose work aligns with HAF’s objectives. HAF focuses on human and civil rights, public policy, media, academia, and interfaith relations. Through its advocacy efforts, HAF seeks to cultivate leaders and empower future generations of Hindu Americans.

Also Read: Analysts Hopeless Over the Trade Talks Between the U.S. and Chinese Government

The Hindu American Foundation is not affiliated with any religious or political organizations or entities. HAF seeks to serve Hindu Americans across all sampradayas (Hindu religious traditions) regardless of race, color, national origin, citizenship, caste, gender, sexual orientation, age and/or disability.