“I don’t paint dreams or nightmares, I paint my own reality”– spoke famous Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.
Decades later, little children and the youth of Kashmir gathered on the banks of famous Dal lake here and did just that—paint their reality–from the devastating flood, to their yearning for peace, to the verdant surroundings.
This was a unique competition organised by the Kashmir-based 15 Corps of the Army where the talent of the children and youth was brought on canvas recently on the lawns of Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre.
“If paintings are a reflection of the mindset, then I must say the future of the Valley is bright and peaceful,” General-officer-Commanding of 15 Corps Lt Gen Subrata Saha said.
‘My Family, My Friends’ was the theme for children between eight and 10 years of age, Beautiful Nature for children of age group 11 to 13 years, Sailaab Se Salamati Tak (From floods to safety) for children of 14 to 18 yrs and Universal Brotherhood Beyond Barriers of Caste, Creed, Colour, Region and Religion? for the youth in open category including college students, professionals and volunteers.
The high point of the competition titled “United Colours of India” was participation of 26 schools from downtown Srinagar, once considered a militancy hotbed.
“I had read once the famous Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh had said and I quote ‘I dream of painting and then I paint my dream’. All I wanted them to paint was their dreams. The dreams were wonderful and every painting had the fragrance of peace, peace and peace,” Lt Gen Saha said.
Quoting legendary painter Pablo Picasso’s “every now and then one paints a picture that seems to have opened a door and serves as a stepping stone to other things”, the top Army commander in the Valley said “The army’s effort was only to open the door of the imagination of these children and youth and I personally hope that this stepping stone will lead to a much needed peaceful era ushering in.”
A painting showed ‘Tasbih’ (rosary) in a hand with flags of countries in the world on it and on top was a dove, a symbol of peace, a house washed away in floods with people nearby building a new home, Muslims and Hindus greeting each other in a reflection of Kashmiriyat, with the tricolour in the backdrop.
The other paintings included a scene of the lush green valley, sunrise, a lion and deer drinking water from the same river with a Temple, Mosque and Church co-existing in the backdrop.