Would you believe that a group not trained in snow sculpting made a 40-feet shikara from snow in its first attempt?
Yes, that’s exactly what Callisto’s first attempt was! The group claims that this is just the beginning of the culture of snow sculpting in India. They’ve been working to popularise the art form and are expecting the coming generations to be more passionate about snow sculpting.
Callisto was formed when four students of Jamia Millia Islamia bumped into each other in the year 2014.
Zahoor Din Lone (30), Irfan (28), Sunil Kushwaha (32) and Ravi Prakash (29) were all pursuing different degrees in Arts. While Irfan and Zahoor are residents of Kashmir, Ravi and Sunil belong to Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, respectively.
For Irfan and Zahoor, snow meant making snowmen and igloos for play pleasure, while for Ravi and Sunil, it was something they only saw in Bollywood films.
"I had only seen snow in films before I got introduced to snow-sculpting." - Ravi Prakash
The group began their journey by trying their luck at organising a Snow Fiesta in Kashmir in 2014, during their vacations. The fiesta was organised by 21 other people and was a huge success.
Irfan credits the success of the Snow Fiesta to Kashmir Tourism and local media. He says getting their support was like finding warmth in wintry Kashmir.
Apart from being new to the concept of snow-sculpting and trying out new ways to get a hang of the art form, the members of the team also had to fight the typical Indian stereotype of engineering vs arts.
Ravi has been a sculpting student since his school days, yet people in his neighbourhood always discouraged him to take up art as a career.
"People in my village tell me nobody gives value to art. Engineers are valued here. There were times I got hurt by their words, but I did not take it to my heart and continued with my art." - Ravi
The group has already been a part of two international snow-sculpting competitions and has received a lot of appreciation, globally. However, it still hasn’t managed to get proper equipment for the art form it practises. The members neither have proper tools nor proper uniform to save themselves from the acute cold.
"We did not have proper tools and uniform. Our gloves got torn while working, the snow used to seep in and become ice and it eventually became difficult to handle our tools. But, we were clear that we had to give our best shot and that’s what we did." - Sunil
Despite all odds they continue making India proud by their stirring snow sculptures!
Camerapersons: Athar Rather, Vivek Das and Mozzam Ali
Video Editor: Puneet Bhatia
Additional Inputs: Nishtha Gautam and Tridip K Mandal
Location Courtesy: Ski India
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