3 artists from rural India win Japan snow sculpting competition

Three poor, rural lads have won accolades for the country by bagging the first prize at the international snow art competition held in Japan.

Hailing from remote villages of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh (MP) and Uttar Pradesh (UP), the three artists pooled their resources to participate in the event and got the achievement without any government sponsorship or support.

Working under the most adverse conditions, the ill-equipped youths of Team India Abhyuday beat the better equipped 11 teams from eight developed countries that participated in the International Snow Sculpturing Competition (ISSC) Japan Cup 2019, held at Nayoro in Japan from February 6 to 9. Team Russia and Team Thailand came second and third respectively.

This was the first-ever team from India to participate in the extremely popular competition in Japan.

Working in bone-chilling high-speed cold winds and -25 degree Celsius freezing temperatures, a record in 19 years of the competition’s history, Ravi Prakash, Sunil Kumar Kushwaha and Rajnish Verma of the Indian team sculptured Lord Vishnu’s Varah Avatar (Swine Incarnation).

The 4-metre high, 3-metre long and 3-metre wide statue, based on a unique mythological character that saved earth from demons, was the biggest attraction for snow art lovers and the jury was happy to declare it the best.

Herman Leung, member of the organizing committee of Nayoro Sightseeing and Town Planning Association, in a text message confirmed the achievement of the Indian team. “It was a pleasure to have the hardworking and talented Indian team compete and win the first prize in the competition,” Leung said.

Nayoro is a famous winter tourism centre in Japan and the Nayoro tourism had organised the competition as a unique tourists’ attraction event.

The team had to undergo a lot of pain and uncertainties before making it to the mega event. Having no money for air ticket and with all efforts to get government sponsorship failing, they had virtually lost hope when a Delhi-based NGO Viswa Samanwayak Sangh came as a good samaritan and arranged for their travel.

The trio had approached the organization after a failed opportunity to participate in another international competition held in Italy in January for want of money for air ticket and tools.

Upon their triumph in Japan, the three-member team, led by Bihar’s Ravi Prakash, was accorded a grand welcome at the Delhi airport by organization chairman Kusham Sah, officials Indrajeet, Abhinav Acharya, Rajkumar and volunteers on their return on Monday.

About the three sculptures

Ravi Prakash is resident of village Pakarihar Khurd under Mohania block of Kaimur district in southwest Bihar. Son of a poor Kumhar (potter), Ravi supports the family and is bearing the education expenses of his two younger sisters and a brother after the death of his father.

Passionate in idol-making from early childhood, he is a gold medalist both in Bachelors in Fine Art (BFA) and Masters in Fine Art (MFA) from Allahabad University and Jamia Millia Islamia University (JMIU). He is presently working as a guest lecturer at JMIU.

Sunil Kumar Kushwaha, resident of the remote hilly village Kachani in Maoist-affected Singrauli district of Madhya Pradesh, is the son of a poor factory labourer. Sunil completed his MFA from JMIU in 2014 and works as a freelance artist.

Rajnish Verma, resident of village Patel Nagar in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri district, was born in a marginal farmer’s family. Rajnish lost his father very early in his childhood and his widowed mother raised and groomed him. He completed his MFA from JMIU in 2018, and is also a freelance artist.

The three of them have several things in common. They hail from extremely poor and rural families, had their schooling and college education in local government institutions. Ravi Prakash said, “Whatever we are today is due to our family support, our hard work and dedication,” he said.

The team has also won three awards – two excellent and one special award at the World Snow Art Competition held in China in December last.

“This is the biggest snow art competition in the world where entry for a team is very difficult,” Ravi said.

They will be felicitated at Jawahar Lal Nehru University on February 27 for their excellent achievements, Ravi said.

“Our only endeavour is to make India proud in the field of Fine Arts all over the world. Financial gains have been secondary. We are inspired by our prime minister’s suggestions to youths to become self-dependent and contribute in making India a shining nation,” the trio said in unison.

First Published: Feb 12, 2019 21:51 IST

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