Keeping the art alive

about 7 months ago
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We have so many forms of rural art in India. Like the Tanjore painting of Tamil Nadu, Warli painting of Maharashtra, miniature paintings and phad of Rajasthan, Gond paintings of Madhya Pradesh, Kalamkari of Andhra Pradesh, Kalighat paintings of West Bengal, Patachitra of Odisha…. The next almost seems never ending.

Bihar has struck on a novel idea – its main art form is the famous Madhubani painting. Also called Mithila art, it originated in the kingdom of Janak (Sita’s father in Ramayana) in Nepal and in present-day Bihar. It is one of the most popular Indian folk arts, practiced mostly by women who wanted to be one with God. Characterised by geometric patterns, this art form wasn’t known to the outside world until the British discovered it after an earthquake in 1930’s revealed broken houses with Madhubani paintings.

To keep the art form alive, the station of Madhubani, one of the oldest and yes, one of the dirtiest stations in Bihar has been adorned with the painting done painstakingly by some 200 local women. Madhubani station now dons what is arguably one of the largest depictions of Madhubani

The makeover of the station, under the East Central zone of Indian Railways, saw a 14,000 sqft wall area covered in a riot of colours. The new look prompted Bindeshwar Pathak, ambassador of Swachh Rail Mission and founder of Sulabh International, to declare Madhubani “the cleanest” station in the country.

The station is now a riot of colours, with depictions of women performing household chores, wedding processions, fish and underwater plants, girls playing under a tree, mythological figures and more.

Isn’t this a great idea for most of the states to decorate their stations with their own art and keep the art form alive, while automatically helping spruce it up?

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