“As strangers congregate in a mass—one mind in many heads,
as the ocean where all rivers come to shed their old names…”
This beautiful screen-printed curtain depicts the Hindu deity Ayyappan—a deified symbol of unity.
The legends behind Ayyappan portray him as the offspring from the unconventional union of the two primary Hindu godheads symbolising life and death—Vishnu and Shiva. All the origin stories and myths of Ayyappan carry this underlying theme of uniting energies, however unlikely. Some stories suggest that Ayyappan was created around the twelfth century for the very purpose of unity; to bridge the conflicts between Vaishnavites and Shaivites who couldn’t agree upon a supreme godhead between Vishnu and Shiva. Staying true to these origins of inspiring unity, Ayyappan stories also speak of this deity’s friendship with the Islamic saint Vavar and the Christian vicar Arthunkal Veluthachan. Even today, Ayyappan devotees visit the Erumeli Nainar Juma Masjid of Vavar and circumambulate it in their ritual attire as part of their annual temple pilgrimage to Sabarimala; then, they bathe in Arthunkal’s St Andrew’s Basilica church pond, creating a beautiful symbol of unity and harmony between diverse belief systems.
As a spiritual symbol, Ayyappan reminds us of the unifying mind and matter, mobilising all faculties for a higher purpose, keeping your eyes focused on what truly matters beyond the mundane experience of life.
✺ Screen-printed cotton curtain. 47” W x 65” L
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