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Indian Holi in Paris

Indian Holi in Paris

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French photographer VĂ©ronique Durruty knows how to play Holi* and she has played it not once but thrice. She has been to different locations in India- from Mathura to Vrindavan*, Benares to Udaipur- during Holi that made her immerse herself in the festival of colours and see it from different angles.


VĂ©ronique durruty's Indian Holi


For VĂ©ronique, "Holi is a celebration of legend of Krishna and Radha- the fesitval where everything is allowed. Women in chic sarees getting drunk on bhang, masses in temple that look like rock groupies, everyone gets transformed in a moving Arlequin, and on the ground, the earth resembles a giant canvas of abstract painting. Is this the fervour or the extreme debauchery ? Happy Holi, India has become crazy ! "


Crazy indeed ! And VĂ©ronique wants her audience to experience Holi in as closest terms as possible by creating a poly sensorial ambience in her exhibition, as is her forte. We shall be confronted with her photos on a velvet paper that is just like touching the skin. Our olfactory senses will encounter the scent of sandalwood mixed with rose flowers as if we were in a temple offering morning prayers. Our auditory senses will absorb an extract of a musical composition inspired by the Holi photos of VĂ©ronique.


Véronique's photos have inspired master perfumer Alberto Morillas at Firmenich's to create a fragrance titled 'L'Odeur du Sacré'** or the 'Scent of the Sacred'. 'l'Odeur du Sacré' is a woody-amber-flowery scent that contains sandal, carnation, incense and a hint of sugar, rice, cedar and rose.


Says Alberto Morillas about his fragrance « in Indian senses, everything is mixed, everything answers to the call: the vision with the smell, the perfume and the touch, the daily and the sacred. This is a perfume without freshness, but with an exaggerated density, without air, without an open door. I have put (in) a lot of wood: sandalwood, cedar, smoked wood impregnated with incense and the humidity. I made this sultry combination with flowers offered for prayers and a gustatory hint. Just like the air of the temple, I wanted to make a fragrance so present that it becomes palpable. »

  VĂ©ronique Durruty- Holi


The music 'Meri Aatma'** was created by Frank Eulry and Yasmin Shah when VĂ©ronique asked Frank to create a musical extract based on her photos. For this work, Frank chose to work with Indian born Yasmin Shah to create a music with mixed origins to re-translate the colourful explosion of the images of the artist.


*More about Holi

For the uninitiated, Holi is the Indian festival of colours celebrated on the full moon of Phalgun month (in February or March). The festival is celebrated over two days- the first day is consecrated to prayers and 'Holika dahan'** or burning of the Holi and the second day to playful festivities of colours***.


VĂ©ronique Durruty- Holi

People smear 'gulal' (coloured powder) or squirt coloured or scented water on each other. There are traditional sweets and snacks associated with Holi such as 'gujiya', 'mathri', 'malpua', 'kanji', 'dahi vada', 'bhang ki thandai' etc.


As per Hindu mythology, 'Holi' was the sister of a demon king called HiranyaKashyap. His son Prahlad was a worshipper of god Vishnu. HiranyaKashyap forbade Prahlad to pray to Vishu. When Prahlad continued despite his father's warnings, the latter tried to kill him. He failed and asked his sister Holi to burn Prahlad. Holi had a boon that no fire could burn her. When shei tried to kill Prahlad by siting in fire, she herself got killed, despite her boon, and Prahlad was protected. Later HiranyaKashyap was killed by Vishnu. The first part of the festival of holi is a celebration of this legend.

Holi in the region of Braj- Mathura, Vrindavan, Nangaoan and Barsana- in North India is synonymous with Hindu god Krishna and his growing up years where he would play holi with gopis- the cowherd women. Story goes that blue-skinned Krishna once complained to his mother about the fair skin of his beloved Radha. The indulgent mother smeared some colour to Radha's cheeks to make her son happy. This is said to the origin of holi.


Traditional preparations for holi: 'gujiya' is a sugar coated, deep fried patty stuffed with dry fruits such as cashew nuts, grated coconut, raisins etc.; 'mathri' is a deep fried salted snack made from refined wheat flour kneaded in butter and salt; 'malpua' is a fried and sweetly spiced pancake eaten dipped in sugar syrup or with fresh cream; 'kanji' is a fermented drink prepared with carrots and spices, 'dahi vada' are deep fried dumplings made of lentils, served soaked in yogurt and sweet tamarind and mango sauce; 'bhang ki thandai* is a beverage prepared with cannabis, almonds, spices, sugar and milk.

  VĂ©ronique Durruty- Holi


**More about Alberto Morillas

Alberto Morillas is a master perfumer at the house of 'Firmenich' where he joined as a junior perfumer in 1970. Some of this renowned creations include 'Essence' of Narcisco Rodriguez, 'Daisy' of Marc Jacobs, 'Summer' by Kenzo, 'La Cologne' of Mugler, 'Flower' by Kenzo, 'Pleasures' of Estee Lauder with Annie Buzantian, 'CK one' of Calvin Klein with Harry Fremont, 'Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue pour homme, etc. Alberto is spanish in origin. He received the François Coty prize in 2003 for the best perfumer for his lifetime works.

Please note that'L'Odeur du Sacré' is not available commercially. Visitors to the exhibition will be able to smell the perfume on the spot with a tester strip though.


**More about Frank Eulry & Yasmin Shah

Frank Eulry is acomposer, arranger and director who has collaborated with international and French artists such as Jane Birkin, The Corrs, Laurent Voulzy, Keren-ann, Benjamin Biolay, Berline, Alain Souchon, Patrick Bruel, Jerho, Luz Casal, Renaud, Romane Serda, Lio, Jacques Duvall, Nolwenn Lery etc.

Born in California to an Indian father and a Porto-Rican mother, Yasmin Shah is now based in Paris where she studied Physics, French Litterature, Oenology and Piano. She has worked as 'voice over' in European commercials of Nestlé, Orangina, Velouté, L'Oréal, Carte Noir, Opel Vectra etc. In 1992, she was nominated for the 'Young Hope'/ Jeune Espoir of 7th Edition of 'Victoires de la Musique' Awards. She has been writing her own songs. Her song "Filé comme un collant" features in Ute Lemper's album "Nuits étranges" and "Coeurs d'accord" in Fabienne Thibault's album "Québécoise".