The Muslim woman who paints Krishna

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Krishna is a deity who for believers emulates feelings of friendship, tenderness and love. For Jasna Saleem, a young woman from Koyilandy in Kozhikode, Krishna is synonymous with livelihood.

“I am a Class 10 dropout. If I gained recognition today, it is only because of my Kannan,” Ms. Jasna said, with affection and gratitude for the Hindu deity. Known for her numerous portraits of Krishna which adorn the walls of several temples and houses, Ms. Jasna is a faithful Muslim.

It is the name ‘Kannan’ that connects Jasna to Krishna, as it was also his nickname in childhood. “My family decided to call me ‘Kinnan’ because I used to throw the kinnam (plate) at home, which then turned into ‘Kannan’, ”Ms. Jasna explained.

Mrs. Jasna took a liking to a picture of little Krishna with laddoos in her hand that she found somewhere. “Before drawing Krishna, I hadn’t even drawn a map correctly. I had no skills. But somehow Krishna went well, ”she said. Later, she switched to the portrait of “Little Krishna Eating Butter”, which won her fame throughout the state.

“I used to contribute paintings of Krishna to Guruvayur temple every year. Although I couldn’t get inside, I used to hand them over to the security personnel and leave. But my friends and neighbors who returned from Guruvayur often commented on my paintings, which they saw in the temple. I was delighted, ”she said.

Later, the temple committee of Ulanadu Sreekrishna Swamy temple in Pandalam invited her to reveal her painting before the deity.

Ms Jasna initially encountered some opposition from her family and community for painting a Hindu deity, but it stopped when she was recognized for her work.


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