The famous Pichwai art is one of the most auspicious forms of Indian art that one can own. A Pichwai painting finds its origins in Nathdwara, Rajasthan, and usually depicts the idol of Lord Krishna in the form of a 7-year-old, known as Shrinath Ji. These are intricately done cloth paintings that are used behind the idol of Shrinath Ji and have now made their way into the modern world and into our homes as an art form.
Apart from the idol of Shrinath Ji, famous Pichwai art also depicts motifs that are related to Shrinath Ji himself like lotus, cows, peacocks, and gopis. What is also depicted in these Pichwai artworks are various auspicious festivals related to Lord Krishna. Here are the most reoccurring festivals depicted in Pichwai famous paintings;
The most revered and celebrated festival depicted in Pichwais is Janmashtami; Janmashtami is a festival that celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna. One of the largest Hindu festivals in India, on this day the idol of Lord Krishna is bathed in milk, curd, ghee, and honey. People pray, fast, and visit Lord Krishna’s temples to offer their prayers.
Usually in famous pichwai art, Shrinath Ji is shown to be in the middle of the painting, dressed elaborately with a peacock feather on his crown. Pichwai paintings that depict the festival of Janmasthami show Shrinath Ji in a cradle while celebrations unfold around him and people surrounding him eagerly to get a glimpse. Most of the Pichwai painting always show the Shrinath Ji durbar being attended by two priests who are offering their prayers and the intended festival or occasion is shown taking place beneath the idol.
Nand Mahotsav, another festival that is portrayed in Pichwai most famous artworks, is celebrated the day after Janmashtami. Also known as Nandotsava, this day is considered auspicious as Krishna was brought home by his foster parents, Nanda and Yashoda. On Nand Mahotsav, the Panchamrit Abhisheka and the Maha Aarti are performed in many temples and the idol of Shrinath Ji, as a baby, is placed in a decorated cradle which is worshipped for the rest of the day.
Sometimes the idols of Yashoda and Nanda are also placed next to him. The pichwai style depicting the festival of Nand Mahotsav shows Krishna in a cradle surrounded by his parents, while people celebrate his birth outside. Villagers eager to see him lined up outside their house and Nanda out of happiness distributes sweets, clothes, and ornaments to saints and sages.
Another festival depicted in Pichwai famous paintings is Sharad Purnima; Sharad Purnima is the first full moon night after the birth of Lord Krishna and it is celebrated as a harvest festival as it indicates the onset of autumn. Typically, a Pichwai painting will depict Shrinath Ji decked up in jewels and dressed in brocade, shining under the light of the glorious full moon depicted on the top of the painting. He is surrounded by people and gopis, who perform Raas Leela on the occasion of a full moon.
One of the most famous and loved themes that are spotted in Pichwai style is the Raas Leela. Raas Leela, in common understanding, is seen as the night when gopis hear the flute of Krishna and rush to dance with him. It is also the night of Sharad Purnima and is otherwise known as Maha Raas which celebrates Raas Leela when Lord Krishna is dressed for the occasion and ready to dance with the gopis. These paintings usually depict the love that gopis have for Krishna and symbolize the union between them.
In a Pichwai painting, the idol is placed in the middle of the canvas, while the gopis are dancing mesmerized and in awe of Krishna who, in an illusion, is seen dancing next to each gopi under a full moon night. The border is decorated with motifs that are commonly related to Shrinath Ji, lotuses, peacocks, and ponds.
Colors flying everywhere, drenching your friends in the water, and ending the day with mouth-watering dishes - the festival we all love is a festival that is loved by Krishna devotees as well.
Holi is one of the grandest festivals to be celebrated in India. The festival of colors is closely associated with Lord Krishna and marks the beginning of spring. During the festival, the idol of Shrinath Ji is dressed in white and as the festival comes closer, the priest keeps applying colors until the day of Holi.
A pichwai portrait that shows Shrinath Ji dressed in white will be one that depicts his participation in the festival of Holi; the pichwai painting would illustrate Lord Krishna covered in patches of color while some colors and gulaal are offered in front of his idol, near his feet.
We all know the famous story of Lord Krishna lifting the entire Mount Govardhan on his little finger and that’s one of the most famous depictions of him on pichwai art.
Angry with the people of Braj for worshipping Mount Govardhan and not Lord Indra himself, Lord Indra showed his fury by letting thunderstorms and rain continue for several days; to save people from the wrath of Lord Indra, Lord Krishna picked up Mount Govardhan on his little finger and took everyone under his shelter, saving everyone. Soon, Lord Indra accepted his defeat and the rains stopped.
Today, the festival of Govardhan Puja or Annakoot is celebrated to worship Lord Krishna to show gratitude and respect. Celebrated on the 4th day of Diwali, people offer a mountain of grains and food that symbolizes Mount Govardhan to Lord Krishna’s idol. In a pichwai painting, Lord Krishna is always shown lifting Mount Govardhan while the people and cattle of Braj take shelter under his protection.
Gopashtami, as the name suggests, is a festival that celebrates the holy symbol of cow. A pichwai art is considered almost incomplete without the symbol of a cow that is considered holy and auspicious.
Closely related to the life of Lord Krishna, this festival is an ode to the relationship between the holy cattle and Shrinathji himself. Gopashtami is considered the day when Lord Krishna became a Gauwala or cow-herd. It is believed that after the incident of Mount Govardhan, Lord Indra gave him this title, bestowing him with his blessings.
On Gopashtami, people worship cows, feed them, bathe them and decorate them with the utmost respect. A pichwai painting that depicts the festival of Gopashtami will usually depict Lord Krishna surrounded by a huge herd of cows, all looking at him in awe. In this Pichwai painting, one can see Lord Krishna in the middle of the painting, surrounded by lots of cows and gopis and gwalas while the bottom of the canvas is lined by swans and lotuses.