The way we are introduced to our culture, and how we choose to remain connected to it are unique processes for each individual. Be it in the form of language, traditions, arts, garments or more, we imbibe them into our lives in different capacities. Some of us may be surrounded by these aspects of it for as long as we can remember, while some truly give into its beauty much later in life.
For 19-year-old Soyeohang Rai from Sikkim, the realisation of the charm in Nepali culture came about just recently. His visual series, ‘Makhmali-SayaPatri’ is wholly inspired by Nepalese traditions – the two flowers, Makhmali (Globe Amaranth) and SayaPatri (Marigold) that are commonly used for worship during the festival of Tihar (Diwali). He plays around with the symbolism of these flowers to create visuals that are not only aesthetic in nature but something to be in awe of.
Explaining his transition from Western-influenced art to art that shows off his culture, Soyeohang says, “I was very much influenced by western aesthetics, Greek and Roman mythologies. Subsequently, the more I tried to build my life and interest around what I liked and borrowed from the West, I realised that my ‘inspiration’ had started to become ‘imitation’.”
Now that his art stems from a place that is deeply personal, it is able to strike a chord with him, as well as his audience.
The photo series does much more for the art sphere than simply adding to it. Soyeohang’s interpretation of his heritage translates into just how much one can explore culture, and that it does not always just restrict to the traditional ways of expression. He says, “With my art, I want to let my own community revisit our history in its right interpretation and in the process, and show the audience what is outside the beauty of the community’s culture and its unexplored aesthetics.”
Soyeohang’s culture was always his to embrace. Luckily, he has chosen to share it with the rest of us, too. As much as we could possibly learn of the intricacies of his heritage from books and the internet, there is nothing that can convey its heartfelt warmth like Soyeohang’s art does.
You can find Soyeohang Rai’s work here.
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