Even as a person casts off worn-out clothes and
puts on others that are new,
so the embodied Self casts off worn-out bodies and
enters into others that are new.
—The Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, Verse 22
Swaminathan’s poetry also seeks to juxtapose Hindu Vedantic ideas of loss as a necessary part of progress with contemporary Indian nationalism’s reluctance to accept change. While religious rituals of mourning may impose on people an active forgetting, so many of the daily rituals of home involve a preoccupation with holding on. In WOVEN: Entangled Memorabilia, these paradoxes of nostalgia converge in the stories of cultural nomads, who at various stages of immigration, mourning, and self-awareness, find themselves in that liminal space between “letting go and holding on.” Immigrant housewives and irreverent teenagers merge with dying national icons and eternal goddesses to grapple with these profound questions of home, tradition, and embodied experience. The work attempts to personalize the political and mythical, bringing a sense of temporality to religious rituals and a sense of divinity to quotidian coping mechanisms. The widow who self-pleasures in remembrance of her dead husband is thus no different from the teenager lighting her mother’s funeral pyre.