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Madanika | by Karthi KN Raveendiran
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The shalabhanjika is a standard decorative element of Indian sculpture, a graceful stone sculpture representing a young female under a stylized tree in various poses, such as dancing, grooming herself or playing a musical instrument. The salabhanjika's female features, like breasts and hips, are often exaggerated. Frequently these sculpted figures display complex hairdos and an abundance of jewelry. The shalabhanjika concept stems from ancient symbolism linking a chaste maiden with the sala tree or the asoka tree through the ritual called dohada, or the fertilisation of plants through contact with a young woman. The symbolism changed over the course of time and the shalabhanjika became figures used as ornamental carvings, usually located in the area where worshipers engage in circumambulation, near the garbhagriha of many Hindu temples. Placed at an angle, salabhanjika figures also were used in temple architecture as a bracket figures. Salabhanjikas are also often mentioned in ancient and modern Indian literature. The sal tree (Shorea robusta) is often confused with the ashoka tree (Saraca indica) in the ancient literature of the Indian subcontinent.The position of the Salabhanjika is also related to the position of Maya when she gave birth to Gautama Buddha under an asoka tree in a garden in Lumbini, while grasping its branch. Some authors hold that Salabhanjika, as young girl at the foot of a tree, is based on an ancient tree deity related to fertility.

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Taken on August 25, 2014