Durga is a Hindu goddess whose slaying of evil demons is celebrated, especially by Bengali, in a spectacular festival called the Durga Puja, held annually in September and October. Statues of Durga are set up in temporary shrines constructed with elaborate and colourful decoration, and at the end of the festival are immersed in a river or lake. The Durga Puja has been celebrated in England for many years, and in 2005 was the subject of a special exhibition at the British Museum, culminating in the immersion of the magnificent statue in the Thames. This painting shows a procession carrying a statue of Durga to be immersed in the water. It is one of over 1,600 paintings in the Wellcome Library that are painted on mica, a flaky mineral substance like very thin glass. Because mica is transparent, it is does not absorb colour and instead makes paint applied to it seem brighter than paper does, which explains the vivid appearance of the whites and reds in this painting. Mica is mined in India (and in Mexico and other places), hence its use as a support for Indian traditional paintings. This one is unusually large.
Watercolour on mica