Media only: Ellie Reynolds, 202.633.0521; Elizabeth Bridgforth, 202.633.0521
Public only: 202.633.1000

The opening celebration for the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery’s exhibition, “Garden and Cosmos: The Royal Paintings of Jodhpur,” commences with a grand benefit dinner, Oct. 16, and a two-day festival, Oct. 18 and 19. The exhibition and its associated programs are the highlight of the yearlong “Inspired by India” events on the National Mall. “Garden and Cosmos,” on view Oct. 11 through Jan. 4, 2009, debuts newly discovered Indian paintings lent by the Mehrangarh Museum Trust from the Maharaja of Marwar-Jodhpur’s private collection.

The theme for the evening is royal Rajasthan, with its rich colors, fragrant gardens and courtly pleasures, including musical serenades by Manganiyar musicians. The Honorable Ronen Sen, ambassador of India to the United States will be present, as well as His Highness Gaj Singh II, the Maharaja of Marwar-Jodhpur, India, who is the special guest for the evening.

The black-tie benefit dinner will include an auction of India-related items and a private viewing of the exhibition. Funds raised by the dinner will benefit the galleries by supporting “Garden and Cosmos,” ImaginAsia family workshops and other public programs that highlight the rich art and culture of Asia.During the live auction, guests may bid on three extraordinary journeys featuring Rajasthan’s desert palaces, regal forts and royal tents. Other items include a private tour and dinner with the director of the Freer and Sackler Galleries, limited-edition Hermès scarves and a crystal-studded Judith Leiber Ganesh handbag. Sealed bids for the auction will be accepted online until 12 a.m. (EST) Oct. 15
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The galleries will continue the celebration through the weekend with a two-day program that celebrates Rajasthan’s distinguished traditions of performing arts and oral history. To inaugurate the festival’s events, performances by Rajasthani dancers from the Kalapriya dance company of Chicago will begin at 10:30 a.m. each day on the Freer steps and plaza. Other weekend events include concerts daily at 1 p.m. in the Meyer Auditorium by Rupayan, an eight-member ensemble direct from Jodhpur. The group traces their lineage to the professional Langa and Manganiyar castes of Muslim musicians who served Hindu Rajput courts for centuries. In the Freer courtyard, children can participate in the festivities with woodblock prints and lantern-making in the ImaginAsia family workshop. Over in Sackler’s “Garden and Cosmos” foyer entrance, writer Sushmita Mazumdar tells popular tales of Hindu deities and their exploits underneath the embroidered tent canopy. Also in the Sackler see music demonstrations by the Rupayan ensemble at 4 p.m. each day.

North Indian delicacies will be available for purchase throughout the day, provided by Nirvana Restaurant.

The festival runs Saturday, Oct. 18, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 19, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more information about the “Garden and Cosmos” opening events, visit or call (202) 633-1000. Free tickets are available through Ticketmaster for Saturday’s and Sunday’s 1 p.m. concerts in the Meyer Auditorium. Tickets will also be distributed one hour before showtime.

The Freer Gallery of Art, located at 12th Street and Independence Avenue S.W., and the adjacent Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, located at 1050 Independence Avenue S.W., are on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day, except Dec. 25, and admission is free. The galleries are located near the Smithsonian Metrorail station on the Blue and Orange lines. For general Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000 or TTY (202) 633-5285.

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