Bonjour India offers slice of sky at Delhi's Jantar Mantar

Jantar Mantar, the 18th century astronomical observatory hosted a scintillating cosmic ballet with 'Luminocity' a spectacle that mixed music, visual art and fashion.

Using light, artists from France and India projected onto the red brick and mortar walls of the 400 year-old observatory stars, planets, asteroids, astronomical instruments and motifs drawn from different mythologies and cosmic legends. "

Jantar Mantar is not just important for astronomy where heaven and earth meet. It also represents unity of elements and today it represents the artistic collaboration between France and India. We'll take you a little closer to the stars. That is how France says Bonjour India," said Minister of Culture and Communication for France Aurelie Filippetti while inaugurating the show at Jantar Mantar here late last evening.

'Luminocity', a Franco-Indian collaboration is part of the ongoing 'Bonjour India' programme to celebrate the "long and rich friendship" between the two countries.

It began in January and spreads over to March across various cities of the country.

So, a sweeping astrolabe could be seen followed by a swinging hour-circle or an ancient astronomical chart lavishly spread over the surface of the Samrat Yantra or various deities riding animals, horizontally cascading across the Ram Yantras and even Mandalas spinning out over the walls.

The Delhi observatory whose construction was begun in the early 1700s by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur has instruments like the Samrat Yantra, the Ram Yantras, the Jayaprakash Yantra and the Mishra Yantra designed on an iconic astronomical pattern.

Incidentally visual artist Nandita Palchoudhuri and her team of native artists who erected a "slice of sky" artwork at main entrance of Jantar Mantar along with 20-odd "time pieces" on its fences, hail from Chanadannagar, a once French town during colonial era in West Bengal.

"This artwork represents the sky seen as a piece of cake. And, I have guided about 40-50 native artists from city of Chandannagar who use this 'old' decoration techniques only during Durga puja to help create this ode to astronomy," Nandita said.

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