Earlier this year there was an art competition and the award winning sand sculpture was done by Sudarsan Pattnaik. His award winning sand sculpture was of the Hindu god Ganesh, the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom. Sand Sculpting in India has been a popular art for some time now, often times to help spread a message, to show reverence to a god, or to just have fun, but almost every sand sculptor is influenced by ones religion. India is where many sand sculpting occurs and many of these sculptures can be influenced by the many religions of India, such as Hinduism and Buddhism.
In Hinduism, their gods can live inside the idols that people have. These people will bring the gods food, clothing and other sorts of offerings. The same can be said for when people make sand sculptures of certain gods. Some people make these sand sculptors to show devotion to the god that they are sculpting since this god may have shown favor to them in the past or wish for them to show favor for them in the future. No sand sculpture will ever be the same not only because of skill level but because everyone is influenced by different religions in different ways so many people may sculpt a certain god in a different way. The sculpture of Ganesh done by Sudarsan Pattnaik shows him as an important and all powerful god. Another sand sculptor of Ganesh was done, but it is was done by children. This sand sculpture is showing a more peaceful look of Ganesh and Ganesh looks like a baby elephant and is actually spreading a message of peace and to stop violence. The children have a different interpretation of Ganesh than Sudarsan Pattnaik even though they all are Hindu.
Sand sculpting is not just done by Hindus, they are also done by Buddhists. Buddhist monks mainly do sand painting, which is the art of pouring colored sands onto a surface to make a fixed or unfixed sand painting, as their form of art which is used for religious or healing rituals. People who believe in Buddhism will make sand sculptors to help spread their messages of peace or other messages they wish to have spread throughout the world. One example is done by Manas Kumar Sahoo. He made a sand sculptor of the Buddha on world peace day for a few reasons. Since every nation in the world faces violence every day, he decided to make a sand sculptor of the Buddha because to him he is a prophet of peace. Nations require the goal of each person or state each to maintain and aspire for peace which will ultimately result in prosperity, balance and growth for everyone. Now some Buddhists may disagree with Manas view on the Buddha as a prophet of peace, but that is how he interprets the Buddha’s message based on his experience with the Buddhist religion.
The self-identity of one’s self in a religion can greatly influence what one sculpts in the sand. In Hinduism, again, many people may sculpt different gods or goddess because they may have shown them favor or helped them in the past. Or some gods may be used to help send a message, for example, one sand sculpture was the Hindu goddess Durga with the earth on fire depicting what global warming will cause. This person is using his religion and what he believes in to interpret his beliefs. This is just one of many examples of how religion has a very strong influence on sand sculptures.