This one is really interesting. We have all heard of the Tibetan Prayer Wheels. They are literally wheels on a spindle. Traditionally made from metal, wood, leather, or coarse cotton, they form the base for depiction or encapsulation of prayers, mantras and symbols such as the Ashtamangala (too complicated to explain in this space). It is believed that the spinning of the prayers wheels has the same effect as orally reciting the prayers or the mantras.
Prayer Wheels In Samye --- Photo courtesy, Wikipedia
What some of you might or might not have heard of are the Mumbai Dabbawalas. The word translates literally into “one who carries a box”. A “dabba” is a cylindrical tin or aluminium container or box. It is used for carrying one’s lunch, and there are special delivery services that use men to send these pre-packed lunch boxes to their destinations. So a dabbawala loosely translates into a “lunch box delivery man”. This is a highly specialized service, and an integral part of the life and culture in Mumbai. Many people in Mumbai commute to workplaces far away from their home. This makes it inconvenient for them to carry a wholesome, elaborate lunch-meal to office. So many office workers order cooked meals sent by a caterer who delivers it to their workplace, in the dabba. These are recollected the same day, and the next day, a fresh dabba is sent over. To mark the dabbas, the dabbawalas use a distinguishing symbol or color on them. Many NGO’s use these dabbas to put spread social service messages across the city, simply by putting a removable sticker on them!
Dabba! - Photo courtesy, Wikipedia
So what am I getting at? Yes. The installation art at the Kala Ghoda Festival. As a tribute to this integral part of the bustling city, one of the installations was a depiction of the simple dabbas as … prayer wheels! It was truly inspired and breath-taking. I loved the use of vibrant colors on the dabbas, made to look like rotating prayer-wheels. I love the way art can seamlessly bring together a spiritual concept and a day-to-day survival idea. Brilliant!