Lakshmi is the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity (both material and spiritual). She is the harbinger of good fortune and is worshipped across Hindu households and commercial establishments.
In Hindu mythology, Lakshmi is depicted as the Goddess who showers coins of prosperity on mankind. She is also an embodiment of beauty.Her face exudes calmness and love, while her strong personality demonstrates the power of wealth.
The term rich in the Indian context implies wealth and power – elements that you see in the striking image of Goddess Lakshmi on the cover of Forbes India Rich List 2012. The idea of putting Her on the cover stemmed from one of my recollections of a fantastic project which New York-based photographer Manjari Sharma has undertaken.
Manjari is in the process of shooting a series of Indian deities for Project Darshan: A fine art series that aims to recreate through photographs nine Gods and Goddesses from Hindu mythology. These deities will be represented in six-foot long images. The final result of this project would be a massive print installation of these images across museums; this would closely resemble the experience of a Hindu temple, replete with incense sticks, lamps and invocations accompanied by detailed texts on each deity.
The use of a rarely explored medium like photography to preserve India’s cultural heritage lends uniqueness to this project which kicked off in 2011. To create imagery for Project Darshan, an exhaustive research on the deities has been undertaken. A team of 35 craftsmen from India has been formed to take care of props, sets, make-up, costumes and jewellery. The journey from production to fine art printing is a precious one. Every image in this series seeks accuracy in form and function.
Recently, I connected with Manjari for the image of Goddess Lakshmi which suited our Rich List cover quite magnificently. We’re both excited about this collaboration.
All those who have made it to the Forbes Rich List are blessed by Goddess Lakshmi. She’s steered them through times of economic uncertainty. She is their fortune, wealth and prosperity.
In summation, as Manjari says, “Diwali is approaching and it’s a blessed time for
Maa Lakshmi and Forbes India to have found each other.”
About Manjari Sharma
Born in Mumbai, 32-year-old Manjari Sharma was raised in the city. She relocated to Brooklyn,New York and works as a fine art photographer. Rooted in the study of relationships and personal mythology, her work has been recognised as walking the line of fine art and traditional portraiture.
She believes that an artist’s vulnerability and experience of culture shock can often transform a banal journey into an adventure. She has shot extensively in the US and India, exploring its mythologies and the people who inhabit these lands. Being Mumbai-bred, the sight of paintings of deities was common to her, but to reproduce them photographically was an ambitious task.
In the past few years, her work has been showcased in several group and solo exhibitions in the USand elsewhere. Most recently, her works were exhibited in the Critical Mass show Across the Divide which had Todd Hido and Espacio Nudage in the Jury, and was curated by José Luis Callejo and Gloria Rueda.
She has also had solo shows of her work Paani at the Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles in 2011 and at Richard Levy Gallery in Albuquerque,New Mexico in 2010. Australian Centre for Photography in Sydney, Gallery 339 in Philadelphia, The Photographic Centre North West in Seattle, Kris Graves Projects in Brooklyn and the Center for Fine Art Photography in Colorado have also featured her work in group shows.
Manjari has also been invited to speak at the School of Visual Arts and the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City.
To view more of Manjari’s extraordinary body of work projectdarshan.com is a must visit.
Below are behind-the-scenes stills from the making of the cover and the Goddess Lakshmi photo shoot:
Photo Assistant Dilnaaz Mehta sits in on sizing and proportions
for the Maa Laxmi set for Darshan
Photographer Manjari Sharma (right) and Art Director
Aparna Raina select fake Lotus flowers for the set
Aparna Raina finesses details on the elephants for Maa laxmi’s set
The Drashan crew prepares for the photo shoot
Sonam Bajwa get’s made up to perfection by make-up Man Sunil for the Maa Laxmi set
Maa Laxmi’s crown get’s situated for the final shot
The constructed lotus get’s it’s last touches
The backdrop is put in place for Maa laxmi’s set
The crew organizes the props for the final shot
Manjari Sharma gets ready to photograph Maa Laxmi on a 4×5 Sinar alongside
Harish Valecha, camera and lighting crew
Final Shot: Maa Laxmi, 2011, © Manjari Sharma, All rights reserved.
Hope you enjoy the edition as much as we did putting it together!