Page last updated at 08:57 GMT, Monday, 28 December 2009

India sand Santa sculptures spread green message

By Sandeep Sahu in Bhubaneswar

Sand Santas
It took 36 hours to create the exhibition

Indian sand artist Sudarshan Patnaik has sculpted 100 Santa Claus figures on a beach in the tourist town of Puri.

The exhibition, which was opened by two foreign tourists last week, seeks to spread awareness about global warming.

Mr Patnaik has also sculpted Christmas trees with the message "Save the Earth from Global Warming", to encourage people to give trees as gifts.

Hundreds of tourists and locals have been visiting the beach to see the unique display.

About 1,000 tonnes of sand and 36 hours of labour went into the creation of the sculpture.

Mr Patnaik was assisted by 20 students of the Golden Institute of Sand Art set up by him on Puri beach.

'Humble effort'

"It is my humble effort to press home the dire need to go green to save the world from the menace of global warming," Mr Patnaik told the BBC over telephone from Puri in eastern Orissa state.

Puri, 60km (37 miles) from the state capital, Bhubaneswar, is a major centre of Hindu pilgrimage and is the place where sand art originated in the 14th Century.

Around this time of year thousands of tourists from all over the world descend on Puri.

"That is what prompted me to think of this way of drawing attention to this global problem," Mr Patnaik said.

The artist has won many prestigious global awards, including first prize in the world sand art championship in Germany earlier this year.

He won a place in the Limca Book of Records by creating the world's tallest (25-foot) Santa Claus last year.

He has participated in nearly 40 international sand art championships and festivals.

Mr Patnaik has always chosen themes such as HIV-Aids, the bird flu outbreak in India, the tsunami disaster and conservation of the endangered Olive Ridley turtles.

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