SOAS University of London

SOAS South Asia Institute

Kumartuli Art: Durga Idol Display and Dance 'The Third Eye'


Date: 19 October 2017Time: 10:00 AM

Finishes: 20 October 2017Time: 9:30 PM

Venue: Paul Webley Wing (Senate House) Room: Cloister Areas, Paul Webley Wing

Type of Event: Celebration

Durga Idol Display PWW Cloisters, Senate House 10 am to 9.30 pm
Dance Demonstration and Story Telling by Sohini Moksha PWW Cloisters, Senate House 1.30pm to 3.30pm
Dance: The Third Eye by Sohini Moksha de la Arts PWW Cloisters, Senate House 19th October: 4.30pm - 4.55pm, 20th October: 4.00pm - 4.25pm
Durga Idol Making

SOAS South Asia Institute (SSAI) hosted a unique five-day live demonstration of clay idol making, the first of its kind in the precincts of the University, with the artists Kaushik Ghosh and Sudarshan Das from Kolkata’s Kumartuli in West Bengal. The week long celebratory event called the Cultural Connects: Durga Utsav (2 to 7 October) showcased the iconic heritage of Durga and its global manifestations. A series of presentations by scholars and artists celebrating both the festival and the diverse religious and cultural traditions of Bengal, matched Kolkata’s festive ethos of ‘sarbojonin’ or ‘for all’.

To coincide with the Bloomsbury Festival, the SSAI is also organising a two-day display of the ornamented and finished statue of the Durga, on 19-20 October, in the Paul Webley wing of the Senate House, SOAS University of London. A digital film will show the making of the clay exhibit in SOAS, the potters’ hub of Kolkata’s Kumartuli and community-inspired Bengali art and craft.

Kumartuli Dance

Dance Demonstration and Story Telling: 1.30 to 3.30pm
The Durga art display also coincides with the widely celebrated South Asian Festival of Light known as Diwali or Kali Puja in Bengal celebrating another mighty form of the deity of feminine power. The art display will be accompanied by drop-in dance demonstration sessions and interpretation of mythology by Sohini Roychowdhury, the director of the multicultural dance troupe Sohini Moksha

Dance Performance: The Third Eye 4.30- 4.55pm (19th) and 4.00- 4.25pm (20th) (PWW, Senate House Cloisters)
Sohini Roychowdhury with Barbara Rasso Fernandez and Maria Sanchez Sanz will be performing an extract from their globally acclaimed Durga dance opera and storytelling in The Third Eye. It is based on the mythical Indian Mother Goddess, which traces its roots to civilisation’s oldest female deity of war and love in the Mesopotamian Ishtar, celebrating the universal spirit of womanhood, and the role of women as multitasking warriors and mothers. In this story re-telling, the dark forces and energies of the world, as symbolised by the demon Mahisasura, is, contrary to the myth, not killed, but shown the quality of mercy, brought to order and universal harmony is restored. Empathy, as denoted by Goddess Durga´s third eye, reigns supreme. The Third Eye in Flamenco Arabe and classical moves demonstrates the multi-award winner Sohini´s world view of ‘Connecting Civilisations’ through her art and stagecraft.

The events are sponsored by SOAS South Asia Institute in association with the arts charity London Sharad Utsav and the Bloomsbury Festival.

Special thanks to help plan the event goes to a number of individuals in SOAS: Prof Edward Simpson (SSAI Director), Dr Navtej Purewal (SSAI Deputy Director), Prof Michael J Hutt, Payal Gaglani-Bhatt (Head of Events), John Hollingworth (Head of Galleries and Exhibitions), Jane Winter (Head of Conferencing and Events), Siobhan Canavan and Magdalene Kolodziejczak (Estates and Facilities), Owen Hoadley (Design), Shahrar Ali, Raghav Kishore, Poppy Reindorp (SSAI), Steve Pryor (Networks) and Gary Hammond (AV).

The event is also supported by external partners: Kate Anderson (Director of Bloomsbury Festival), Anirban Mukhopadhyay (President, London Sharad Utsav), Suranjan Som and Amit Guha (Cultural Team: London Sharad Utsav), Kaushik Ghosh and Sudarshan Das (Kolkata’s Kumartuli artists).

SSAI, Music Department, Widening Participation and Brunei Gallery are working together towards public engagement through various events during the Bloomsbury Festival this October at SOAS.

The SSAI event has been coordinated by Dr Sanjukta Ghosh (

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Organiser: SOAS South Asia Institute

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