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100,000 Wishes from China Offered to Vrindavan Wish Tree
By ISKCON News Staff   |  Apr 21, 2016

Photos by Param P. Tomanec. 

Over 100,000 wishes gathered on Mandali Mendrilla’s sculpture dress “Mandala of Desires”, were offered to a genuine Wish Tree in Vrindavan, UP, India, on March 6th 2016. 

An intimate gathering of enthusiasts met under the tree at Kaliya Ghat in Vrindavan, and offered over 100 000 desires gathered on the interactive sculpture dress called “Mandala of Desires” (Blue Lotus Wish Tree) that was on display at the China Art Museum in Shanghai, from December 2015 to February 21. 2016, as part of the exhibition called “Forms of Devotion”, organized by the Belgian MOSA museum and Teamwork from India, and curated by Sushma K. Bahl and Archana Sapra.  

Mandala of Desires (Blue Lotus Wish Tree), an interactive art installation made by fashion designer Mandali Mendrilla, became one of the hits at the exhibition consisting of 430 works of art from the collection of the Belgian MOSA museum (Museum of Sacred Art). The exhibition was on display on the 10th floor of the China Art Museum in Shanghai and was frequented by 3,000 to 5,000 people daily.  

Mandala of Desires is an interactive art piece creating beautiful life by visualization. The installation inspires visitors to imagine a beautiful world, write their vision down on a piece of paper or cloth, and hang it on the dress as they would on a branch of a live wish tree. That meditative practice of collective wishing is well known to traditions of the East and has been recently celebrated by Yoko Ono.  

The pattern of the Mandala of Desires was constructed according to a traditional Indian mandala diagram known as Goloka Yantra and the Thousand Petalled Lotus (sahasra patra kamalam) described in the ancient hymn, Sri Brahma Samhita. Part of the Brahma Samhita hymns where painted on the dress in Devanagari script. Mandala’s (diagrams) and the Thousand Petalled Lotus are elements we both find in Indian and Chinese culture.  

 Mandali Mendrilla offers wishes to the tree.

The Thousand Petalled Lotus petticoat construction was inspired by the work of Dutch sculptor Bert Van Loo, known for his layered glass sculptures displayed in the city of Amsterdam and galleries worldwide, especially in China.  

During the ceremony, Mandali Mendrilla also presented to the Vrindavan Wish Tree in Kaliya Ghat, the famous Wish Tree Dress that was exhibited during the Zagreb Fashion Week in May 2015 and with which she has gathered thousands of desires written on pieces of peace silk through an online as well as offline campaign.

It is described that Kaliya Ghat is the place where Sri Krishna, who was believed to have grown up in Vrindavan about 5,000 years ago, danced on the numerous heads of a serpent named Kaliya, who, after having experienced Krishna’s love through this dance, gave up his tendency to envy others. The Wish Tree at the spot is believed to be the tree on which Sri Krishna climbed to jump in the Yamuna River where Kaliya resided.

Krishna bhakti, or devotional service towards the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna, is a dominant form of worship in Vrindavan, and the little town features over 5,000 temples, where opulent worship, consisting of food offerings, flower decorations, fragrances, fine clothing, singing, dancing and special festivals, is offered to deities of Krishna throughout the day. 

The exhibition “Forms of Devotion”, features artworks from some of India’s and the world’s most prominent visual artists inspired by religious, cultural and social visions of India rendered in the spirit of devotion and for the betterment of humanity.

Wishes on the tree.

This is the largest exhibition of Indian and India inspired art ever to travel outside of India and it covers an area of more than 1,500 square meters. 

“The collection engages with continuity and change and features classical inspired, tribal, folk, popular, new media and contemporary art. It depicts the indelible connect between art, faith, and life, transcending stylistic, geographical, chronological, and ideological boundaries” explained Sushma K. Bahl and Archana B. Sapra, the curators of the exhibition.

The MOSA collection, which includes over 2,000 works of art inspired by devotional concepts is the result of many years of work of Martin Gurvich (Mahaprabhu Das), the director of the Museum Of Sacred Art (MOSA) and son of renowned artist Jose Gurvich. “Forms of Devotion” inspires happiness and tranquility of sacred spaces and raises important social questions relevant both to India and the world today.   

The offering of desires was made in the presence of Sushma K. Bahl, Mandali Mendrilla, Martin Gurvich, Param P. Tomanec, Madhu Van Paare, Shilpi Bhargava and Pavan Jambangi of Carnatic Cafe, and the representatives of the local Sandipani Muni charity school for girls of whom Mandali is a supporter.  

The desires were offered to traditional songs of Vrindavan, performed by Estonian kirtan and opera singer Krishangi Lila Devi.

As seen in images, Mandali and Martin (Mahaprabhu) chose to perform the offering ceremony in the traditional dress of the local people in Vrindavan. Mandali chose a sari made of peace silk to honour the widows and renounciates who come to Vrindavan to pass their last days in meditation of Lord Krishna.

Mandali, Sushma and Mahaprabhu with the tree.

“Offering the collected desires to this beautiful Wish Tree was one of most profound experiences in my life as an artist. The connection and the positive response I have received in my heart is deep and amazing. It seems that when we facilitate the happiness of others in the spirit of selfless devotion, that is when we receive an incredible amount of happiness in return. Collective wishing under Wish Trees is a beautiful tradition of the East and I am honored to have had the experience of being present under one of these sacred trees in one of India’s holiest cities, Vrindavan.”  Mandali recounts.   

In Shanghai, Forms of Devotion received over 500,000 visitors. Forms of Devotion and the Mandala of Desires are next to be featured in Spain. 

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