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“Shikor | ROOTS”, a year long art programme, is initiated by Bangladesh Art Week as an annual event. It is an exclusive collaboration between artists, designers and local artisans of low-income rural families. 

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“Behula - Lakhindar’s Immortal Love Story”

Behula is the protagonist in the Shiva Purana and the Manasamangal genre of Bengali medieval epics. A number of works belonging to this genre were written between the thirteenth and eighteenth centuries. Though the religious purpose of these works is to eulogise the Hindu goddess Manasa, these works are more well known for depicting the

 love story of Behula and her husband Lakhindar (or Lakshindar or Lakshmindara).

Artist | Farzana Haque

One of the artists who collaborated with our project called শিকড় | Shikor. 

Curator : Niharika Momtaz | Founder, Bangladesh Art Week

Photography : Farzana Akhtar

Usha (or Usa), the daughter of Banasura, fell in love with Aniruddha the son of Pradyumna. Aniruddha was a grandson of lord Krishna. After  their marriage they were reborn again as Behula and Lakshindar in next life and married each other again.

Behula was the daughter-in law of chand Sadaat of Champaknagar. According to myth, two beautiful apsara's of the kingdom of heaven, Usha and Aniruddha were cursed by Gods as per the plan of Goddess Manasa and sent to earth as Behula and Lakshinder - Behula as the only daughter of Say bene (or Sayven of Ujaninagar) and Lakshinder as the seventh son of Chand Sadagar. Chand sadagar was a great devotee of Shiva and for certain reasons he hated Manasa. But Manasa had to get "Anjali" by Chand sadagar's right hand- the Bhaktasreshto to get position of Goddess in the heaven. However, Chand sadagar promised to himself that he will never give Anjali to Manasa by the hand he uses to give anjali to Shiva. To get an anjali from Chand, Manasa took away his six sons. They died from poisonous snake bites and Manasa had absolute power over all snakes. These deaths infuriated Chand Sadagar even more and he vowed to save his last son, Lakhinder, in any way possible. Chand found a girl, Behula, whose destiny spoke that she will never be a widow. Chand got his seventh son, Lakshinder married with Behula. Chand also had an iron palace built without any hole so that not a single snake could enter the house.

Bishyakarma made it for the wedding night of Behula and Lakshinder. But due to the request of Manasa, Bishyakarma kept a hole in the palace. The night came and Manasa sent her Kalnagini, the most poisonous snake, to the iron palace and it crept into the room. Behula fell asleep due to a spell Manasa cast on her. When Kalnagini was going to bite Lakshinder, she saw that Behula had committed no sin for which she might be given such a harsh punishment. So kalnagini, with the help of the lower end of her body smeared the parting of Behula's hair with the oil of the lamp, which was a sin according to the Hindu mythology. After she bit Lakshinder, Lakshinder shouted aloud. Behula woke up and saw kalnagini slithering out of the room. In anger, she threw the jaanti towards kalnagini and the lower part of the snake's body was cut off. Kalnagini was not eager to bite Lakshinder; Manasa forced her to do so. To get back her husband's life from the Gods in the heavens, Behula sailed with her dead husband in a raft towards Heaven. She faced many dangers during her incredibly long and difficult journey in the rivers. After reaching Heaven, she pleased all the Gods with her beautiful and enchanting dancing and got the Gods to promise to give back her husband's life on the condition that Chand would give anjali to Manasa. Desperate to save his son's life, finally Chand gave in and gave the anjali by the left hand. Consequentlty Manasa got the position of Goddess in heaven and gave back the life of all the six sons of Chand.

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Nezami's version begins with an account of Khosrow's birth and his education. This is followed by an account of Khosrow's feast in a farmer's house; for which Khosrow is severely chastised by his father. Khosrow asks forgiveness and repents his offence. Hormizd IV, who is now pleased with his son, forgives him. That very night, Khosrow sees his grandfather Anushirvan in a dream and Anushirvan gives him glad tidings of a wife named Shirin, a steed named Shabdiz, a musician named Barbad, and a great kingdom, that is Persia.

Artist | Sanjoy Das 

One of the artists who collaborated with our project called শিকড় | Shikor. 

Curator : Niharika Momtaz

Conversation With : Mohammed Mohsin

Videography: Pankaj Chowdhury Rony

Shapur, Khosrow's close friend and a painter, tells Khosrow of the Armenian queen Mahin Banu and her niece Shirin. Hearing Shapur's descriptions of Shirin's flawless features, the young prince falls in love with Shirin, the Armenian princess. Shapur travels to Armenia to look for Shirin. Shapur finds Shirin and shows the image of Khosrow to Shirin. Shirin falls in love with Khosrow and escapes from Armenia to Khosrow's capital Mada'in; but meanwhile, Khosrow also flees from his father's anger and sets out for Armenia in search of Shirin. On the way, he finds Shirin unclothed bathing and washing her flowing hair; Shirin also sees him; but since Khosrow was traveling in peasant clothes, they do not recognize one another. Khosrow arrives in Armenia and is welcomed by Shamira the queen of Armenia - yet he finds out that Shirin is in Mada'in. Again, Shapur is sent to bring Shirin. When Shirin reaches Armenia, Khosrow – because of his father's death - has to return to Mada'in. The two lovers keep going to opposite places until Khosrow is overthrown by a general named Bahrām Chobin and flees to Armenia. In Armenia, Khosrow finally meets Shirin and is welcomed by her. Shirin, however, does not agree to marry Khosrow; unless Khosrow first claims his country back from Bahram Chobin. Thus, Khosrow leaves Shirin in Armenia and goes to Constantinople. The Caesar agrees to assist him against Bahram Chobin on condition that he marry his daughter Mariam. Khosrow is also forced to promise not to marry any one else long as Mariam is alive. Khosrow succeeds in defeating his enemy and reclaims his throne. Mariam, out of jealousy, keeps Khosrow away from Shirin.

Meanwhile, a sculptor named Farhad falls in love with Shirin and becomes Khosrow's love-rival. Khosrow cannot abide Farhad, so he sends him as an exile to Behistun mountain with the impossible task of carving stairs out of the cliff rocks. Farhad begins his task hoping that Khosrow will allow him to marry Shirin. Yet, Khosrow sends a messenger to Farhad and gives him false news of Shirin's death. Hearing this false news, Farhad throws himself from the mountaintop and dies. Khosrow writes a letter to Shirin, expressing his regret for Farhad's death. Soon after this incident, Mariam also dies. According to Ferdowsi's version, it was Shirin who secretly poisoned Mariam. Shirin replies to Khosrow's letter with another satirical letter of condolences. Khosrow, before proposing marriage to Shirin, tries to have intimacy with another woman named Shekar in Isfahan, which further delays the lovers' union. Finally, Khosrow goes to Shirin's castle to see her. Shirin, seeing that Khosrow is drunk, does not let him in the castle. She particularly reproaches Khosrow for his intimacy with Shekar. Khosrow, sad and rejected, returns to his palace.

Shirin eventually consents to marry Khosrow after several romantic and heroic episodes. Yet, Shiroyeh, Khosrow's son from his wife Mariam, is also in love with Shirin. Shiroyeh finally murders his father Khosrow and sends a messenger to Shirin conveying that after one week, she would have to marry him. Shirin, in order to avoid marrying Shiroy, kills herself. Khosrow and Shirin were buried together in the same grave.

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