Faith In Colours: Muslim Patua artisans bring Bengal’s Chalchitra magic to Lucknow’s Durga Puja
Vikas Nagar Pandal Showcases Over 200 Chalchitra/Patachitra Paintings, Bridging Art and Religion; Durga Adorns Dhoti, Spreads the Message of Unity.
LUCKNOW Ayesha Khatoon, along with a group of local artists from Rahim Nagar, Lucknow, has been diligently wielding their paintbrushes, paper pieces, and colours for the past one and a half months. Their canvas? Hindu deities like Shiv-Parvati and Kali, among others.
In a remarkable display of artistic fusion and communal harmony, artists like Tamanna Bano, Sabnam Bano, Shabra, Heera Begun, Bano, Mohd Zakir, Sufiyan, and Sarfaraz, all hailing from Lucknow’s Rahim Nagar, are working day and night on a project that involves creating over 200 Chalchitra paintings.
This traditional art form, also known as Patachitra, has been chosen as the central theme for this year’s Durga Puja pandal at Sector-9, Vikas Nagar, organised by the Shashwat Social and Cultural Club. The paintings will vary in size, with the largest reaching an impressive 6 feet in height and 12 feet in width.
“The theme aims to shed light on the disappearing Chalchitra paintings crafted by the dwindling Patua artisan community in West Bengal,” stated Mritunjoy Mukherjee, General Secretary of the club. “Our message transcends the realm of art; it’s about conveying the essence of communal harmony and brotherhood across religions,” he added.
“The Patua community is truly unique, as their traditional occupation involves the painting and modelling of Hindu idols, even though many of them are Muslims,” Mukherjee explained. “The name ‘Patua’ is derived from the Bengali word ‘Pota,’ which means engraver. They are also widely recognized as ‘Chitrakar,’ meaning scroll painters, as they narrate stories through their artwork,” he elaborated.
“To avoid copyright issues related to Chalchitra, we’ve referred to the paintings our artisans are creating as ‘Chitralekha.’ These artworks will adorn the entire pandal, raising awareness about the dwindling artisan community and their fading artform,” he concluded.
Artistry Nurturing Future
Due to the demanding nature of the work, 15 underprivileged child artists from Lucknow have willingly volunteered to assist. These children are also receiving training from the aforementioned Muslim artisans in Lucknow. This initiative is in line with the club’s tradition of engaging children in artistic endeavors, expanding upon the themes of ‘recycle and reuse’ and ‘women empowerment’ from the previous year. Additionally, the young artists are benefiting from guidance provided by Aditi Bhattacharjee, an emerging talent from Lucknow.
Maa Durga In Dhoti
In a departure from tradition, this year’s Maa Durga idol will wear a traditional dhoti instead of a saree and will be adorned with minimal jewellery. The organisers, predominantly comprising professionals under 35 years old, believe that when Durga battled the demon Mahishasura, she wore basic attire, such as a dhoti. “Our Durga idol will reflect these fundamental aspects inspired by the Chalchitra paintings,” Mukherjee added.
In addition to the exquisite paintings, the pandal will feature decorations made from Kodom Ful (Burflower) gardens and traditional Bengali gamcha, among other elements. Notably, unlike other pandals, the celebrations will commence on tritiya (the third day) of Navratri, adding a unique twist to the festive tradition.