The spirit of India was brought to life yesterday at the pre-screening of the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Maharaja: The Splendour of India exhibit.
Over two-and-a-half centuries of culture and history was commemorated in the AGO. In collaboration with the Victoria and Albert museum, this is the first exhibit to comprehensively explore the Kings of India. Matthew Teitelbaum, the director and CEO of the Art Gallery of Ontario, said the exhibit allows citizens to think “we are all royalty for a day.
Shobana Raveendrana, of the Toronto based South Asian company inDance, welcomed distinguished guests and members of the press with a traditional Indian dance. Draped in a fine gold and red silk saree and adored with elaborate jewellery, she performed a Bharatanatyam style piece entitled Salaam Darum. Rex Rajavairan, one of the board of directors of inDance, said this type of dance was traditionally performed in courts of the Maharaja.
The exhibit displays over 200 works of art – from weaponry to royal jewels to opulent paintings – and exemplifies the legacy and history of the Maharajas with a modern twist. The Star of India, the 1934 Rolls Royce Phantom II, is one of the main attractions of the exhibit that comes with an inspirational story. It was donated to the AGO for the exhibit by the great-grand son of its original owner.
In 1968, the “Star of India” made its way beyond the family of whom it was originally custom-built for: His Highness Shri Dharmendrasinhji of Rajkot. Just as recent at May 2010, the “Star of India” was put up for an auction by Guenter Zach in Europe and acquired by Shri Mandhatasinhji Jadeja. After the Maharaja exhibit is completed, Shri Mandhatasinhji Jadeja told MyBindi.com that the “people of Rajkot will celebrate the return of the Star of India to Indian soil,” which will be installed in a private museum among other precious family heirlooms.
But Michael Chan, Ontario’s Minister of Tourism and Culture, said the exhibit is more than just jewels and riches. He said, “It is a unique opportunity to celebrate culture and history.”
The Maharaja exhibit runs from Nov. 20 to April 3, and is free for those 25 years of age and under.
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Stay tuned for an exclusive video interview with Shri Mandhatasinhji Jadeja as he shares his story about the “Star of India” with MyBindi.com.