Buddha is smiling

During the ongoing project "Beyond ritual -  the body of power the power of body"(Munich/Germany) I was invited to Jaipur/India by the artist and curator Dimple B Shah, who was one of the participating artists in the project “Beyond Ritual”. 
Researching the different customs of various cultures while there I had the chance to learn more about a society where polytheism is practiced. I was astonished, how many different customs, rituals and forms of worship are performed in different regions and temples to similar (or even the same) gods and godesses. 
One of the common customs is cleansing, cleaning and rinsing, which is practiced in nearly every ritual I witnessed. In the project beyond ritual I realized that most of the artists, even descendants of different continents use actions and substances in their ritual performances for the purpose of cleansing and through which they practice a transition to another state of consciousness or a transformation from one persona into the other.
On my first day at the art summit in Jaipur I became aware of three elderly women, dressed in very colorful saris, cleaning with ease all the dirt with local brooms that was thrown on the floor by the "upper society" (officials, artists, curators, students, volunteers and paying visitors). I quickly bonded with them, we smiled to each other and they let me try out their brooms. Every day we had an encounter like that without talking. I asked them if they would like to participate in my performance on the last day of the performance/ritual event.
Dressed with similar saris, the four of us sweep the dusty floor while we envelope the audience in the same clouds of dust that hit them on the streets of their city every day. 
Then each of us washes one floor tile with water and cloth so thoroughly that “you can eat on it”.  On the cleansed tiles I apply “ghee” in different shapes. In the ancient Vedic ritual of sacrifices the fireplaces were shaped in different forms: the one in the east like a square, a symbol for the earth, in the south like the moon and in the west in a circle for the sun. Ghee is a fat, what is made from butter and is used both as daily food and as fuel for rituals. I mix the ghee with flour. Fat and flour are staple foods in the diet of every Indian and also worldwide. Together with my three “godesses” we form dumplings, which are distributed among the audience. Later the audience throws the dumplings into a bucket that I am holding. The ones, which are “wasted”, I collect in a bowl. The saved ones I mix with some water to a mush. Dressed with the rags, with which we were cleaning the floor before, I continue with all the accessible water and my whole body to clean the floor and by that I get more and more wet and dirty. 
At the end of the performance, I construct a pillow from the dirty and wet rags, sit on them in a meditation posture and put the bucket with the mush on my head. While the mush slowly slides down  my face and my body, I use black paint to draw a smiling face on the bucket on my head.

The main acts in this performance are the collective working phases with the three women, which acted very naturally even in front of the audience doing common activities like sweeping, cleaning and forming something out of dough. I feel very grateful, that I had the opportunity to act together with the women, so bridging different societies through art.
This performance is a ritual in which I want to show my respect to these women, to what they do, that they keep our environment clean and to show my respect to the earth, where our food comes from. That is why we try to cleanse the floor to a state, which allows us to prepare food on it. 
The dumplings, which are mixed with dirt (like pollution and all the other poisons our food currently contains)—because people did not hit the bucket and they fell on the dirty floor- and the edible food I collect separately, o face the amounts of edible and the fumigated food.
At the end I “feed” my spirit with the content of the bucket, to show that nourishing our spirit to achieve toughtfulness,  awareness, contemplation and reflectiveness is the primary goal for everybody, no matter if we talk about environment, nutrition, religion or dealing with other people worldwide.
Art Summit Jaipur India
Curated by Dimple B Shah

Participants: Savitri, Meera and Kamlesh

Pics by Shubho o Saha, Dimple B Shah, Somya