Amongst the many arts and cultural forms that the Pushkar fair exhibits to the world, one is Sand Art. It is the practice of creating temporary but intricate sculptures out of fine sand. It is an art form highly respected and admired in Rajasthan, especially in Pushkar. Very few artists practice this art form, and among them is Ajay Rawat.
He comes from a farmer’s family in Ganaheda village near Pushkar and is the youngest of eight siblings. He started creating artwork in the sands of the desert as a hobby and has been practising this art for the last 8-9 years. He has been making the sand art exhibition at the Pushkar fair for the last four years.
He started by making just one sculpture at the Pushkar fair for the first time. Many people loved it, so the following year, he started creating an entire exhibition of 10 to 12 sculptures at the fair. After years of practice, it takes him one day to make one complete sand sculpture. Since they are temporary art forms, sand sculptures stay intact for 15 to 20 days. However, the exhibits at the Pushkar fair remain only for ten days of the fair.
When asked where he got the inspiration to make these sculptures, Ajay Rawat replied that it was more for fun when he started. He loved playing with sand, and that’s how he began working with it. Over the years, he started portraying the stories that he saw and were communicated locally in his art. When he saw Rajasthan’s landscapes and heard its people’s stories, he was inspired by them. The camels, the desert, and the stories of brave people of Rajasthan, like Maharana Pratap, Amrita Devi Bishnoi, Panna Dai and many others, inspired him. He tells these stories through his art.
According to Ajay Rawat, making a sand sculpture is pretty simple. The first step is to gather fine sand and water it. The right amount of water is essential here. The sand should be just wet enough to hold the sculpture, not less, not more. The next step is to shape significant parts of the design with bare hands, and the last step is to add details using tools. He uses a lot of tools, brushes and blades in the process. Some of the tools are easily available in the market, while he makes others.
Today, Ajay Rawat’s sculptures have a lot of visitors, from foreigners to locals that visit the Pushkar fair. Other than that, many politicians, ministers and even the Chief Minister of Rajasthan visited his exhibition at the Pushkar fair. This gives him the opportunity to tell the local stories of Rajasthan to the world.
As an artist and a humble person, Ajay Rawat believes that sand art is a natural form of art that can be made anywhere with just sand and water. Practising this form makes one feel that they are connected to their roots. It brings peace to the mind and a sense of belonging.