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HomeWorldNew York’s Rubin Museum to Set Up Exhibition Dedicated to ‘Om’

New York’s Rubin Museum to Set Up Exhibition Dedicated to ‘Om’

A New York museum has created an exhibition to celebrate the syllable “om,” which is used in religious and yogic chants in India and around the world. The Rubin Museum of Art is set to transform its sixth floor into a participatory installation it is calling the “Om Lab” from Feb. 3 next year.

For three months, visitors will be able to step into a recording booth and record their chants of om–a Sanskrit syllable derived from Hindu scriptures.

The sound is used by religions and often serves as a preface to chants and prayers, according to the Rubin Museum.

“The history of om is over 3,000 years old. It is not just a single note but serves as an important link to cross-cultures, religion,” said Risha Lee, the exhibition’s co-curator. “Sound is not a passive experience. We make, feel, and interact with it through our bodies.”

The syllable has also become an important part of some yoga and meditation practices.

“Yoga is incomplete without om,” said Krishna Sikhwal, who teaches yoga to students from more than 30 countries including the U.S., Australia, and Canada.

Mr. Sikhwal’s classes at Rishikesh Yogpeeth in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand begin every morning with a 30-minute chant of ‘om.’ “According to Yoga scriptures, when we recite om, all impediments in our life begin to disappear,” he said.

The Rubin museum even plans an “om in” as part of the exhibition, during which there will be music, performances, opportunities to make art and meditation.

The recordings collected from the booth will be mixed together to create a single chant that will be featured in the museum’s “The World Is Sound” exhibition in June.

The exhibition aims to offer immersive experiences for visitors about the museum’s core mission: to present its permanent exhibition of works about “contemporary life and the art and ideas of the Himalayas and neighboring regions including India.”

“Om is a universal sound,” Mr. Sikhwal said. “Take an empty bowl and place it on your ear, you will listen to the sound of om.”

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(via WSJ)