Practical Pichois

  

The pichois in a haveli come in two main categories.

1)       Plain / printed / embroided / woven / bolts of cloth hung in the background.

2)       Painted pichois, specially commissioned and used on specific occasions.

 

Simple pichois

 

Majority of pichois used in the temple are cut from bolts of cloth and are not specially “commissioned” as such.   Cloth, used to make the Lord’s clothes, is sometimes used to make the pichoi.  So, for example, a lehariya style pichod, worn by the Lord, is sometimes set off by using the same lehariya as a pichoi.  This gives it continuity and a set theme for the seva.

Brocade and plain coloured cloth is used with equal frequency.  During the summer, plain pichois are often used to create a clear, airy look in the inner sanctum.  Brocades are used on festive occasions and during the winter months to create a warm, cosy atmosphere.

We can recreate these in our own seva very easily !  Cut pieces of cloth are widely available and can be tailored to fit your seva exactly.  You can even create your entire saj in this way !  Many vaishnavs do this at home and make matching saj.

India has some of the best weavers in the world.  The designs churned out by our artists are amazing in their variety and vibrant in their colour.  Infact, at most weddings, even with hundreds of guests, you will not find two women wearing the same sari !!  The endless combinations of colour and design are a constant cause of wonder !  Why not use the brocade palav (Palo) of a sari as a pichoi ?  Most of us can afford to buy a sari just for seva – the intricate border – palaver – can be used as a pichoi and the rest of the material can be used for making the gadi, clothes etc.  It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be beautiful !  And beauty is in the eye of the beholder !!

  

Painted pichois

 

Painted pichois are special, because they have a theme and a specific subject matter.  Hence they can only be utilised on specific occasions.   They are also expensive, as they usually need to be commissioned and its important to find the right artist who understands the bhava you are trying to convey through the pichois.

So, how can we, as normal vaishnavs, have such pichois in our own seva ?
Two ways of doing it.

Buy it or make it yourself.

BUY !

 Some people think buying an old / antique pichoi is the only way to get a genuine article.

 Not so. 

Often, buying antiques is not the right way of doing this. 
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For one, its fraught with dangers of being scammed.  Unless you are an expert, you cannot know the true age of a piece and may pay over the odds for something that is not a true antique. 
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Secondly, it is difficult to care for antiques.  They are the heritage of our culture and unless you are going to care of them properly, its not fair to buy them and let them rot in your loft. 
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Thirdly, it is illegal to get them out of the country.  Unless you intend to use them in India, don’t buy anything that could land you in big trouble with the customs. 
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Fourthly, its difficult to use antiques in our normal sized sevas.  They are too big or too delicate to use in an ordinary seva (room).

As a refreshing change, you can always commission a new pichoi yourself ! 

There are plenty of artists in and out of India and they are happy to paint themes requested by you.  It is a wonderful way to support current talent, assure its continuity and is a perfectly legal way to take them out of the country.  You can always commission one according to your own bhava, thus expressing yourself in your way to your own Thakorji ! or, have the artist copy a theme from a well known pichoi.  There are several books on the matter (Amit Ambalal’s Krishan As ShriNathji being a prime example) and artists in Nathadwara are allowed to access temple’s own archives for more themes.  Working with the artist, you can always get him to find a theme that suits your bhava.  Patronising the art and artist is a rewarding experience, and, you could be the owner of a future masterpiece !

Another option is to hire an art student to paint pichois for you ! 

There are plenty of students in art colleges all over India who would love to have their grants supplemented by way of painting pichois in their spare time.  Let’s face it, pichoi for an average house shrine is not that big a project and an art student can easily spare time for that !  Money aside, it gives them practice in the genre and is good for developing their business skills in the future.

If that’s too much of a bother, you can buy readymade pichois in Nathadwara in the form of cloth paintings sold in most shops.  Instead of mounting these in frames, hang them in your seva and vola ! it’s a pichoi !!  In most shops, there are plenty of themes to choose from, most popular ones are Dana lila, Hindola, Holi and MahaRaas.

 

DIY

“Do it yourself” pichois may lack in artistic perfection, but, it more than makes up for it by the bhava expressed in them. 
Tie-dye, block printing, painting (brush, pens, pencils and even chalk !) can be used to express your bhava !  Making your own pichoi is a seva in its own form and it can bring enormous amount of satisfaction when you offer your own creation to your creator ! 

In havelis, pichois are part of the soft furnishings of the interior.  In our own seva, they can be part of the soft furnishing, or wall paper !  Why not ?

Personally, I have found that though cloth pichois are good, it is sometimes easier for me to offer paintings on other mediums - paper, foam board, hard board etc.  These are easy to set up in the seva (with limited space) and even easier to remove.

It is also a great way to bring the family together.  Children love painting.  Why not get them to paint a pichoi they can offer on their birthday ? 

A great advantage of painting these yourself is, you are able to modify the themes (cows, trees, gopies etc) to fit your seva and size of your Thakorji.  It is also enormously satisfying to know that you have created something unique for your own Thakorji !  Who knows, in years to come, this could become an heirloom that your grandchildren will cherish and say – “Grand-dad / mum made this on his 8th birthday !”

Seva should be an expression of your own bhava.
GO !
Express yourself !!
Paint a pichoi today !!!

 

(Please visit our shop for pichois to buy)
Bhagwat

 

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bhagwat_s@yahoo.com