FIFTY images of the Balmiki Ramayan from the Rampur Raza Library in India are here in TT on exhibition at the Art Society, Federation Park, Port of Spain.
Each piece has been translated into English for the local audience.
The Balmiki Ramayan is a centuries-old treasure of 17,000 ancient manuscripts preserved in their natural splendour.
The Persian manuscript is invaluable in its contributions as the 258 photographic images contained within it depict the art, architecture and culture of that period, according to Arun Kumar Sahu, High Commissioner of India, on Tuesday night.
The society has partnered with the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Cultural Co-operation and the High Commission of India to host the exhibition which will run from January 7 to 18.
Speaking at the official launch, Kumar Sahu told a small gathering that Ramayana, originally written by Valmiki, tells the story of a prince, Rama of the city of Ayodhya, and is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the other being the Mahābhārata.
Kumar Sahu said the story has been told and retold in various forms for generations in India and in several countries around the world, including TT.
He said it gave him immense pleasure to bring one of the treasures of India, an exhibition of Balmiki (Valmiki) Ramayan transliterated from Sanskrit to Persian by Sumir Chand in 1715, during the reign of Farrukhsiyar, a Mughal emperor.
“The Rampur Raza Library in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh owns the original manuscript. This manuscript is in the Persian Nasta’liq script written with gold water and like other manuscripts of that period, is beautifully illustrated.
“The three volumes of this Persian version have also been translated into Hindi and edited by Prof Shah Abdus Salam and Dr Waqarul Hasan Siddiqui,” Kumar Sahu said.
Kumar Sahu said the exhibition of Sumir Chand’s Balmiki Ramayana is for art lovers, patrons, academics and art historians in TT.
He thanked the society for partnering with the Mahatma Gandhi institute.
Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan said the occasion is one of the most memorable time for TT.
“I heard the High Commissioner said India is a very diverse society. I think TT can match you when it comes to diversity. For us in TT, especially Hindu’s, it play a significant part in us as a community in achieving what we have achieved.
“If you truly understand the Balmiki Ramayana it tells you all about the life of Lord Ram, how he lived, his exile and his return. I think most of the indentured labourers who came to Trinidad, if it’s one thing we are sure every family had was a copy of the Ramayana.”
Sinanan urged guests to understand what the message is all about within the book and respect the manuscript.
Also in attendance was Port of Spain mayor Joel Martinez, president of the Art Society Peter Sheppard, chairman of the Coosal Group of Companies Sieunarine Coosal, among others.