On my buying trip to India in February I made it a point to visit the people who we donated rice to during the covid lockdown. I wanted to meet them, hear their stories, and see first hand if we touched their lives in any way.
I was uncharacteristically nervous on the drive there.
My first stop was the young woman who was pregnant during COVID last year and did not have a place to live. Here she is with her husband and daughter, now 9 months old. Her daughter is a beautiful, happy and healthy young girl. As we were leaving she told me “thank you” in English and I could see in her eyes that she truly meant it. The “thank you” touched me deeply.
Next, we visited the family with two blind sons. Only one was there at the time. The mother was a wonderful woman who was all smiles and chatting to me in Tamil. She showed me her house and how they all slept on the floor together in one cinderblock room with a corrugated roof and a fan. She told me that when she got the rice, she immediately started a fire to start cooking it because they literally had no food to eat. She was so thankful for what we had done for her family.
We visited a village that could not have been any more marginalized by society. They lived on the outskirts of town with no water or electricity. No government aid gets to them and they are purely subsistence living. On the drive getting there I was amazed at how my friend, Balan was even able to find these people. When I was there Balan told me how some of the villagers were amazed that the rice was whole grain rice. They were used to only eating cracked rice, basically, they could only afford the low-quality rice that had some defects to it.
It was an incredibly rewarding and difficult day for me. It was rewarding to connect with the actual people we donated rice to, look into their eyes and feel how appreciative they were of our help. It was difficult because you can see how large the issues are with poverty in India and the world. As much as I would love to solve the issue, it is not something that one person can come in to correct. It would take a massive effort to change society.
Balan and I were brainstorming over things we can do in the future and hope to bring another donation opportunity to everyone again soon.
Thank you again to everyone who donated to help make this happen.
It has been 16 years since I first visited Nepal. Lotus Sculpture has never imported any statues from Nepal so this past week was like a buying trip 20 years ago, exploring Kathmandu valley and searching for new artisans with exceptional statues. Happily, we found them!
The moment that I laid my eyes on this stunning Nataraj statue I knew I would have to bring Him home with me. I have never before seen a dancing Shiva in this style. It is a perfect statue in casting, form, and painting.
From the moment I met Siddartha I knew I had met a lifelong friend. He has a calm grace and inner peace that emanates from him. And he has some amazing statues like this amazing Vajrasatva (coming to Lotus Sculpture soon)!
Going from shop to shop finding some hidden treasures like this copper double dorje brings out the inner Indiana Jones in me.
Batsa is a young 29-year-old artist shown creating a wax mold of Vajrayogini. He uses yak bone to shape it. The saliva keeps them from sticking together which differs from how stipathis (wax modelers) of South India create their wax molds. He spends all day drawing and creating wax molds. I loved him. He is a dedicated, true artist!
I knew I was going to find amazing statues, but when I saw some amazing prayer wheels I had to learn where and how they are made. The mantra “Om Mani Padme Om” is pounded into copper sheets and then made into a prayer wheel and filled with prayers. I know you will be as excited about them as I am!
Mahesh is a Master craftsman! All of his statues are made at another level of artistry. I can not wait to show them to you!
We are going to have a big selection of masterpieces coming from Nepal! As big a selection as Indra’s arms are wide.
Vajrasatva is jeweled with rubies, red coral, and emeralds. Stunning carving!
“Being in Nepal was like experiencing my first buying trip as a young man 22 years ago. With every step I took on the streets of Kathmandu, I was in search of something new for Lotus Sculpture, a new artisan or a new art form. Every day was exhilarating!”
~Kyle Tortora, Founder, Lotus Sculpture
Here are the ghats or steps where bodies are cremated at the Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu dedicated to Lord Shiva. It was a very heavy difficult day for me. There were children begging, old sadhus laying on the ground in awful health conditions that aren’t appropriate to share, and then seeing bodies burning on funeral pyres really affected me. The Buddha said that “all life is suffering.” It was easy to understand why he uttered those words so long ago. It was also very easy to see the impermanence of all life in those moments as both life and death were on display in front of me.
I have never before visited where our brass statues are made in Aligarh. The experience was eye-opening and amazing! The saying, “it takes a village” truly applies to making one statue. Each statue passes through 6 separate stages with a different person responsible for each stage. It was fantastic to finally meet the artists who have been making these beautiful statues for Lotus Sculpture!
Watching the artists cast these pieces was incredible. Packing each mold in sand leaving an exact duplicate of the statue inside the mold, then pouring molten brass into the cavity. It truly made me appreciate how much work goes into each piece.
Text block about Jaipur.
“The freedom and sense of discovery I feel while walking the streets of India is like no other ”
~Kyle Tortora, Founder, Lotus Sculpture
I found a new Mala supplier! Stunning seven chakra malas made from precious and semi-precious stones.
Thank you once again to everyone who participated in our COVID Relief fundraiser and thank you to KPBS and The Coast News for taking the time to share our story.
There’s more where that came from…
Over the course of just two weeks, we were able to raise nearly $60,000 and feed 4,180 families in some of the hardest-hit communities in South India. The success of this project has greatly inspired me. I am now in the process of brainstorming more ways we can help the many struggling families in India. Keep an eye on our Community Service page where I will be sharing my ideas and the progress of our future efforts.
Thank you kindly, Kyle Tortora, Founder, Lotus Sculpture
Last week, our local news station, KPBS San Diego highlighted our South India COVID Relief efforts
These are the people which your donations have helped feed through this trying time.
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