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“India to enter first snow sculpture contest”
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“India to enter first snow sculpture contest”

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Mridul UpadhyayThe first-ever Indian snow sculpting team will compete in the 27th International Snow Sculpture Championships in Colorado, United States in January 2017. Mridul Upadhyay, 25, a Commonwealth Correspondent from New Delhi, is a member of the team and speaks with his team mates about overcoming the challenges of the competition.

Mridul: Congratulations Zahoor Din Lone, Sunil Kushwaha, and Ravi Prakash on your selection.

Team: Thank you very much.

Mridul: So, let’s talk about how we got started.

Zahoor Din Lone (Team Leader): I am a graphic artist and belong to the beautiful Kashmir valley of India which has perennial snow-covered peaks. But there I grew up in a disturbed environment of stone pelting, curfew, and strikes, so I decided to take art as the medium to express and cope with the stress of my personal experiences of physical assaults, humiliation and unrest.

I founded Callisto Art & Culture society in 2011 and organized ‘Snow Fiesta 2014’, the first ever snow sculpting festival in Gulmarg, India. Since then, I am working to make snow art popular. We soon hope to organize an International Snow Sculpting Championship in India.

Mridul Upadhyay: India gets snow every year but we don’t find culture, recognition and appreciation for snow sculpting in India, unlike many countries of the world. Snow is a part of local culture in few states of India, and snow sculpting looks like age-old famous Indian monolithic sculptures, just having a softer medium. Also, I feel a need to channel the local young artists’ energy and give the local people a chance of proper employment and empowerment. Art and snow-based tourism is a perfect way. Thus I supported Zahoor at Callisto with my expertise in advocacy and management. Now we, at Callisto, hope to create an entirely new culture of youth engagement in snow art.

Sunil Kushwaha: I am a sculptor and belong to a rural village of India’s Maoist-hit district. Art kept me engaged during unrest situations. During my Masters of Fine Arts (Sculpture), I became part of Callisto and we started working on snow sculptures. It was tough to get enough snow to practice, and travelling to those remote areas having enough snow is very expensive, so I practiced on stone mostly.

Ravi Prakash: I am also a sculptor and took art as the medium of social and economic development. With continuous hard work, I earned two Gold Medals in academics, both in Bachelors & Masters of Fine Arts (Sculpture). Snow sculpting process is same as working on stone or wood. Snow as a medium not only attracts artists but also viewers. It attracted me when I met Zahoor and I also started working on it.

Mridul: Let’s talk more about this championship. 

Sunil: In this championship, we four artists will carve a 10 foot by 10 foot by 12 foot, 20-tonne snow cuboid for 65 hours in five days, into a fine proposed snow sculpture based on the making of civilizations, cultures and individual character, with a special emphasis on the importance of diversity and peace.

Ravi: We are the youngest and one of the top 16 teams in the world – out of dozens of applications for this championship – that has been invited to sculpt in the final event in the USA.

Mridul: I think our team is first, not only in India, rather in all of South Asia to compete in any international snow sculpture championship. Funding, natural calamities and unrest are among the first challenges we face.

Zahoor: We got some support in organizing our first snow sculpting festival from government and local sponsors but we still worked with random tools and no proper dress in snow for days, due to budget constraint and unavailability of tools in India. Though the program was successful but we didn’t get any support for practise since then.

Ravi: This championship is also partially sponsored and the team cannot bear the expenses related to overseas flights, proper tools and dress. The total budget is 14000 USD approximately and we are trying to raise this fund with no success so far. Surprisingly, there is not a single scheme with government to support us in this situation.

Mridul:  We hope the team will overcome these challenges also, as each member has done in past, and we wish to represent our country and region in our best capacity.

Reach me on Twitter  @Mridul_upadhyay

Photo credit: Mridul Upadhyay

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About me:
A thinker, a social volunteer, a mechanical designer, a theater artist, a guitar player, a lyrics-writer, an amateur sketch artist, a cook, a traveler, a wannabe civil servant – there are many phrases I enjoy trying on me to describe what I see myself as.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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