The Koel's Call

As the most romanticized bird in South Asian literature, held in high regard for its beautiful song, the Koel has been a common symbol of love.

Tassels ornamented with metal and glass beads often adorn South Asian garments, furniture, and religious icons. The use of watercolor paints in this illustration evokes the playful tradition of Holi celebrants dousing one another with colored water, often using a squirt gun or water balloon.

Diya Ghosh, Koel's Call, 2020. Watercolor on canvas. ©Diya Ghosh. All rights reserved.


By Diya Ghosh

A cacophony of colors
Rings in my head
Laughter and squeals,
As the pistons shoot
streams of color
of unknown strengths.
Hidden between the strands
of pink and green,
now swirling at my feet.
Drinks and tricks,
Though setting some aside
Quiet and rushed
The feelings inside
of pure joy;
Touches the soul,
the child.

Play with the colors,
that burst,
cleansing the air
for blooms to scintillate.
For me, where the Koels sing.
Bewildered runnings
With neighbors and friends
Balloons, buckets
Powders and paste.
Reminisce those days
whenever again
My hands will brim
With those colors
Dipped in Spring.

Fun fact: this piece of art was made by spraying water color onto the canvas using a syringe. Ever a resourceful artist, Ghosh used the resources around this case her bathtub.

Diya Ghosh

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Holi (Sanskrit: होली Holī) is a Hindu spring festival that is celebrated across the Indian subcontinent and by the greater South Asian diaspora across the world. Aside from being the festival of colors, Holi is a time to celebrate unbridled joy, love, and the triumph of good over evil. Through visual art, this installation highlights some of the spirit and traditions associated with Holi such as throwing colored powdered and spraying colored water through pichkari at friends and family and poojas (religious ceremonies).  

This collection is the result of generous donations from the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, the MGH Department of Dermatology, and the MGH Employee Resource Group Leaders Group.

Other work from Holi