History of Sand Sculptures of Orissa
The origin of sand art of Orissa is associated with an interesting myth, although it has not been proved historically. The author of Dandi Ramayana, poet Balaram Das, was a great devotee of Lord Jagannath. Once in an attempt to climb the chariot of Lord Jagannath for offering his prayer, he was denied and insulted by the priests. The humiliated poet then went to the beach and carved out sculptures of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra on the beach with sand and water. He then started worshipping the sculptures. It is said that the poet worshipped with such strong devotion that the idols of the deities vanished from the chariot and emerged at the place where the sand art was made. Though no historical records support this myth, the origin of sand art in Orissa has been evident from the time of Balaram Das only. This period is mentioned as the 14th century and signifies that sand art is quite ancient in this region and gained huge appreciations over time.
Features of Sand Sculptures of Orissa
Sand sculptures have derived their inspiration from the stone sculptures. However sand art is quite easier and faster than stone art as the sand is not as rigid as a stone. Learning this art is also quite easy. Sand art is quite fascinating, easily transformable into different forms and is also easily perishable. The fame of this art has also augmented owing to the development of tourism in the region. The appreciations of tourists act as great encouragements for the artists who dedicate their life for this exquisite art. The contribution of these artists has also played a key role in internationalizing this art.
A prominent name in the arena of sand art is Sudarsan Pattnaik who has received world wide acclamation for his art. He represented India in the World Masters Sand Sculpture Championship organized in Italy in July 2001. He received the third prize along with the credit of being the first Indian to be awarded in the championship. He also travels through different countries to showcase his excellent skills. For further promotion of this art 'Golden Sand Art Institute' has been established in Puri beach in the year 1995. It is an open air institute which imparts training in sand art.