The newly minted “Tree & Serpent” exhibit at The Met in New York City showcases the origins of Buddhist teachings
The culmination of a delicate undertaking that was more than a decade in the making, in July New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art unveiled “Tree & Serpent: Early Buddhist Art in India, 200 B.C.E.-400 C.E.” The collaboration between the Reliance Foundation, an Indian philanthropic organization, and The Met, driven in part by businesswoman Nita Ambani, who became the first Indian person to become an Honorary Trustee in 2019.
The exhibit, which runs from July 21 to November 13, 2023, displays more than 125 objects from the period, immersing visitors in the world of early Buddhist art. “I come from India, the land of the Buddha, and it is a huge honor for me to support ‘Tree & Serpent’ through Reliance Foundation’s partnership with The Met,” said Nita Ambani. “With the ‘Tree & Serpent,’ we take immense pride in showcasing the deep-rooted connection between Buddhism and India. The teachings of Buddha are entwined with Indian ethos and continue to shape global thought. I hope people from around the world come and enjoy this one-of-a-kind experience.”
“Tree & Serpent,” featuring the sacred bodhi tree and the protective snake, both of which hold great significance and symbolism in the Buddhist tradition. Through the ancient art, the exhibit showcases the origins of Buddhism’s ideals, which evolved into the teachings of one of the world’s great religions.
For more information on the exhibit, visit metmuseum.org/exhibitions/tree-and-serpent.[Sidebar] Art in August
If the “Tree & Serpent” inspires an appetite for art, take in three of the most expansive South Asian exhibits nationwide.
Philadelphia Art Museum
With about 4,000 works of art dating from the second millennium BCE to the present day, the South Asian Art collection of the Philadelphia Art Museum showcases works that come from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Tibet, and more.
Peabody Essex Museum (Salem, Massechusetts)
The ongoing exhibition of South Asian art hones in on the 19th century and delves into India’s complex history and foreign occupation. Works include clay sculpture, mica paintings, and Kalighat paintings, among others.
The Rubin (New York City, NY)
The exhibitions housed at The Rubin showcase the diversity of Asia’s cultures and narratives.
With varied works that celebrate art forms ranging from ancient to contemporary, current special exhibits include photography and multimedia, and its permanent collection galleries are focused primarily on art from the Himalayan region.
The ensemble group tour celebrates its first studio album in more than 45 years
Fifty years after the informal conversations and jam sessions that sparked the band into existence, boundary-shattering global fusion ensemble group Shakti releases its first new studio album—This Moment.
As a cornerstone of what is now called world music, Shakti inspired generations of musicians from around the world to explore sonic hybrids once thought impossible. Born of the musical and spiritual brotherhood shared by the revolutionary British guitarist and bandleader John McLaughlin and master Indian percussionist Zakir Hussain, Shakti’s soulful, organic intermingling of Eastern and Western musical traditions has proven transformative for both the band’s members and its listeners.
This Moment offers a set of new compositions and performances that burn with a rare intensity born out of passion. With McLaughlin (guitar, guitar synth) and Hussain (tabla) joined by vocalist Shankar Mahadevan, violinist Ganesh Rajagopalan, and percussionist Selvaganesh Vinayakram, the Shakti of now is a powerfully dynamic collective with the ability to draw from a vast well of global traditions.
Shakti will be celebrating the release of This Moment by undertaking an extensive performance schedule, including their first U.S. tour in 18 years. Beginning August 17 in Boston, the shows further reinforce Shakti’s pan-cultural ethos by introducing jazz and American elements via supporting spots by either Jerry Douglas, Béla Fleck, Bill Frissell, or John Scofield.
A full list of Shakti’s 2023 dates is below.
Aug 17 Wang Theater, Boston, MA
Aug 19 The Capitol Theatre, Port Chester, NY
Aug 20 NJPAC Newark, NJ
Aug 22 The Keswick, Glenside, PA
Aug 23 Wolf Trap Vienna, VA
Aug 25 Cobb Energy Center, Atlanta, GA
Aug 27 Koka Booth Amp, Cary, NC
Aug 29 Palace Theatre, Columbus, OH
Aug 31 Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN
Sept 3 Ravinia Festival, Highland Park, IL
Sept 5 Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland, OR
Sept 6 Paramount Theatre, Seattle, WA
Sept 8 Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, Davis, CA
Sept 9 Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, CA
Sept 11 Irvine Barclay Theatre, Irvine, CA
Sept 14 Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, MI
Sept 16 Riverbend Centre of the Arts, Austin, TX
Two South Asian podcasts for your listening pleasure
That Desi Spark
A podcast for South Asians interested in exploring challenging societal issues that brown people face (plus celeb interviews with fascinating South Asians on the rise), That Desi Spark will keep you entertained and informed. Created by three founders who offer conversations through the lens of dual identity that many South Asians face on topics including education, entertainment, and social justice, That Desi Spark, formerly known as The Woke Desi, introduces subject-area experts and unfiltered celebrity interviews. Founded by Annika Sharma, an author with a background in maternal and child health, marketing guru/lifestyle blogger Nehal Tenany, and hedge fund trader/producer Sridhar Pisupati, this podcast is sometimes funny, often poignant, and always illuminating.
Hosted by brand strategist and entrepreneur Simi Shah, Trailblazers is more than a podcast—it’s a media platform. Shah, who served as chief of staff to Indra Nooyi, the former chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, is the founder and CEO of Trailblazers. The podcast, which “dives deep into the journeys of trailblazing South Asians, sharing the stories of leaders and dreamers lighting the way across the South Asian diaspora,” is now in its sixth season, so there’s more than 60 interviews to dig into, including comedian Zarna Garg and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal.