Collection

The collection at the Indo-American Heritage Museum is composed of artifacts collected from the community. Here are a few of their featured items which have a connection to nature:

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Charkha– Spinning wheel (made out of wood). The charkha was both a tool and a symbol of the Indian independence movement. Mahatma Gandhi hoped the charkha would assist the peoples of India achieve self-sufficiency and independence. He used it as a symbol against foreign goods and to emphasize the value of local production by hand using natural materials.

Bullock– Ox cart (miniature cart made of wood and husk). The bullock cart was widely used in India before the introduction of automobiles and it is still used, especially in rural areas to transport people and goods.

Matka– Water jug (made out of tin and decorated with recycled glass). The matka is also made out of clay and is mostly carried by women on their head to  transport water from far distances. The jug keeps the water cool.

Dandiya sticks (made out of bamboo). The dandiya sticks are used in a dance often called the “stick dance” that represents a mock-fight between the Creator Durga and the Destroyer Mahishasura.

Elephant and camel strings (made out of fabrics). Elephants are significant in Hindu mythology and considered an auspicious animal. These elephant strings are commonly hanged in homes to welcome people and bring good luck. Likewise, the camel strings are used in the Thar desert.

Birth of Krishna print (paper and ink). This large print depict stories from Krishna’s childhood. One story or chapter shows a ten-headed cobra in a river spreading its hood over a basket to protect Krishna from the rain.

Image of adorned feet with Henna art (framed photo). Henna dye continues to be used to adorn the body of young women, especially their feet and hands as part of social and holiday celebrations, significantly in weddings.  Henna is a flowering plant used to dye the body and the name is used for the art of temporary tattooing using these dyes. There are several shops along Devon Avenue that do henna tattooing.

Various children’s books (in English). These books are used in workshops and activities with children. They depict scenaries in the forest where adults and children are interacting with nature.