Diwali Celebrations at Kotah

Explore the festivities in this miniature painting from Kotah

Diwali celebrations at Kotah ((c. 1690)) by IndianNational Gallery of Victoria

This view of a celebration in a Rajput palace is an early example of the genre of tamasha paintings, panoramas describing scenes of court life, that blossomed in the early eighteenth century at the court of the Mewar princely state of north west India, possibly Kotah. 

The festivities may represent Diwali, the New Year Festival of Lights devoted to Lakshmi the Goddess of Wealth and Good Fortune. 

To secure luck for the coming year the Goddess is worshipped at her shrine, and the light from fireworks and oil lamps symbolises the victory of the forces of light over darkness. 

The palace is depicted from a bird’s eye view, the perspective of different sections skewed to present the architectural details and spaces within the building to best effect. 

The painting richly rewards close examination, with numerous entertaining vignettes and details, including the woman seen in profile through the window set into the bright orange main gate.

Beyond the walls of the palace a lively gathering includes a group of musicians,...

...men sprinkling the dust with water from a goat skin bag...

...and a man leading a leopard on a leash. 

Within the palace the Diwali festivities are celebrated before the Maharana who is accompanied by the women of the zenana and entertained by a diminutive performer. 

To the left a priestess bows before the Diwali lights. 

The combination of intricate, lively details contained within a framework of palace architecture...

...and landscape, and executed in dense, bold colours, characterise the tamasha genre of Rajput painting.

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