Thangka Painter: Sarika Singh enhances woman's pride

By: Arvind Sharma
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Sarika Singh
Dharamshala, Oct 24: Today, she owns the cap of being perhaps the first woman Thangka painter of the world. But it took her years together to be a leader in this domain. The prima-facie love of a Thangka painting, in which Lord Buddha was shown in absolute composure, in an exhibition at New Delhi during her college days turned out to be both, a life long obsession and association for her. Now, Sarika Singh, an established painter and teacher, had even to starve in the beginning of her career. After her marriage with Thangka Master Locho in 2000, she co-established Thangde Gatsal Studio and Art School with her husband to preserve and promote this Himalayan art through out the world.

A graduate of Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi, Sarika sacrificed luxurious life of a metro city in 1997 and came to Dharamshala to learn the Himalayan classical art based on the Buddhist themes. She studied the art, first at the world-renowned Norbulinka Institute, Sidhbari near Dharamshala from 1997 to 2000 and then at the Thangde Gatsal Studio and Art School till 2006. Since its inception, the school has produced over 200 quality Thangkas using traditional techniques and methods. It has become a vital destination for western artists, scholars and researchers interested in the Himalayan art including Indian students from prestigious colleges and universities. The school, also, has helped in making of many a documentary and film on the Himalayan Art.

Both, Sarika and her husband Master Locho applied their master strokes on the paintings commissioned by eminent personalities and organizations like Sam R Waltson (Owner of Walmart Stores), Joanne Lumley (Hollywood actress) etc. round the globe. The couple was invited to Austria in 2000 to conduct a workshop. She Drup Ling Centre, Graz of Austria commissioned her to paint four official paintings for the Kalachakra Initiation Ceremony for the world peace in 2002. Next year, she exhibited her paintings in the London Art Gallery and the couple was invited to teach at the Univeristy of Denver, Colorado in 2004. Both were engaged by Arizona Teachings Inc. Tucson (USA) for three official paintings of Shantideva teachings imparted by HH the Dalai Lama. She has been honoured by various organizations including Lady Shri Ram College, The Jacques Marchais Tibetan Museum, USA etc.

Appreciating and recognizing the efforts of Sarika Singh, the office of HH the Dalai Lama declared her perhaps the first woman to become a Thangka painter and teacher in 2010 in this endangered art form. The Ministry of Culture, Government of India nominated her as member of the Expert Advisory Committee for Preservation of Buddhist Culture and Art in 2011.

At present, she is a source of inspiration for Indian women and has contributed for their empowerment. She has provided skills to many rural women, who are now self-employed. But it needs a firm determination, perseverance, sincerity and diligence to be a Sarika Singh.

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