Raja Swarna

I am an artist, and an entrepreneur, successfully running the Tanjore Art Studio and the Academy of Traditional Arts in Bangalore. When I wanted to learn the traditional art forms, initially it was difficult to find authentic Tanjavur Art. So, I researched, spoke to people at exhibitions, other researchers, and started to do 100% natural Tanjavur Art, using natural colors, which takes about 45 days to complete a single painting. This is rarely done in India anymore. Born out of a hobby, today it is a full-fledged academy with more than 800 students from all over the world. Raja is the one who encouraged me to focus on one thing. He helped me shape my skill set and gave me a proper direction. He also helped brand my work. He sincerely believes in me and my talent and is extremely proud of my achievements.


I was married to Raja, in a traditional arranged marriage set-up. Born and brought up in Madurai, life before marriage was pretty much spent within that place, but I was a confident person even back then. Raja was my father’s friend’s son, brilliant in his field with a career where he was growing fast. When the horoscopes matched, he came to see me. In our first meeting, we didn’t even speak alone to each other, but found a great vibe in each other and said yes to the alliance. Within 15 days of our first meeting, we were engaged and within 45 days we were married to each other.


Though in today’s context’s the definition of arranged marriages has quite changed, but the traditional system worked well for us.  When we started off, we were poles apart in our personalities but our values were similar which helped build the foundation of our relationship. We both trust each other completely, since the beginning of our journey. If I make a decision about something in his absence, he respects it and backs me up for it. I too, never question him about the decisions he makes for our family. It’s not because we don’t care, it’s because our thought-process is so similar that we know we can rely on each other’s decisions.


We like to see the positive side of life, even when situations are tough. We see an opportunity to learn and grow in difficult situations. He traveled a lot in the initial years of marriage, he was hardly ever at home. But I discovered my passion towards art and cooking more deeply in these times. Similarly, there has never been a moment when any of us has differentiated things in the house as yours and mine. We truly share everything equally – from money to responsibilities. His faith in me and my talent keeps me grounded and confident. The biggest challenge for us is scheduling for everything and managing our time well so that family and work both are balanced. We love traveling together and learning about how people differ in food habits, culture, and also to explore different local traditional art forms in the places we visit.


As parents, we believe in setting a very strong example for our children. We keep our weaknesses and our intimate moments to ourselves and don’t believe in unnecessarily discussing them with others. Because we trust each other so much, we are confident everything will be resolved between us, with equal effort from both of us. We give each other space and communicate openly and consider our different thinking styles as our strong connection points. Our life is about realizing our dreams and we even dream of having a farm by our house by the time we are old and continue to live a simple, self-sustained and fulfilling life.


When we entered our marriage there were no pre-conditions or preconceived notions. We build our beautiful life together with love and effort. Life is not what we imagine, it is so much more. We discovered each other over the years and have enjoyed each other’s company. We taught each other what we know and collected such rich experiences, along the way. We have reveled in life’s learning. So, our advice to all the new-age couples is that, if you come into a marriage with an open mind and help each other to grow in life, then your marriage becomes the most beautiful part of your life.

– Swarna