Out of the ordinary:Maharukh Dastur, a software professional, makes paintings,collages and mosaics from materials of everyday use— Photo: Shantanu Das
When Maharukh Dastur began making beautiful paintings, collages and mosaics in her spare time two years ago, she never imagined that one day she would be able to showcase her creative work in front of her own Parsi community in her beloved Udvada.
But, as the three-day Iranshah Udvada Utsav, wound up on Sunday, Dastur had sold nearly 50 per cent of the 40-odd artworks on display. The festival was the first such event that brought over 3,000 Parsi community members from across the world to the town that houses the sacred Zoroastrian fire.
Working as a software professional with a leading bank in Mumbai, she began making collages using material of everyday use — the bright red coloured boxes of Red Label tea, the deep brown coloured cake boxes from a cake shop in her neighbourhood, the yellow and green of Amul butter packs, and shiny Toblerone chocolate wrappers.
“Usually, we throw away these things, but I discovered a use for these in my paintings and it looked good. I never had the time when my two sons were small. Now they are old, and I can find time to indulge in my own pursuits. So after I returned from work, and finished dinner, I would sit in the balcony and work on these,” says Dastur speaking to The Hindu at her stall at the Udvada festival.
Dastur searched the Internet, and learnt more techniques which helped her expand her creativity. “I would carry the daily newspaper to office to read, and if I found the right colour shade that could be used to enhance my paintings, I would collect it in different boxes, and work on it. The petals of this yellow flower are from Amul butter packs for example,” she says, showing artwork that resemble paintings, but are actually collages and mosaics using waste paper.
Belonging to a priestly family, Dastur has been a frequent visitor to the Udvada fire temple, but the Iranshah Udvada Utsav gave her the opportunity to showcase her 40-odd artworks for the first time. Encouraged by her husband and two sons, she decided to brand her work “Mahakruti”.
Like many others, Udvada holds a special place in Dastur’s heart. The fire temple, which has for 273 uninterrupted years housed the eternal fire, has no electricity, and the Parsi devotees pray to the sacred fire in pitch darkness.
“It is a completely different experience. One can feel the spiritual vibrations when you are inside. Some of my best artworks have been created in Udvada because you come here to soak in the spirituality and tranquillity of the place,” she says.