Content research by Shivanki and Written by Ananya Maahir

In Mithila, an ancient city of Northern Bihar which is now known as Madhubani, nearly all women are experts in one or the other popular crafts of the region, namely – painting which has now become famous as Madhubani / Mithila painting, embroidery, papermache craft and Sikki grass work. Products made in these five crafts by a girl raise her popularity in the family. Such is the importance of craft in the region. Sikki craft is one of the most practiced craft form in the region.

Image source: http://www.umsas.org.in/en/bihar-arts-crafts/sikki-craft/

The Sikki grass craft has been in existence since hundreds of years. It is difficult to ascertain the exact age of this craft. However, as a craft used for commercial use is a more recent phenomenon, over the last couple of decades. Crafting products, mainly various forms of utilities, divine figures, and toys, using Sikki grass are an integral part of the living of the women of the part of Northern Bihar.

Image source: http://www.umsas.org.in/en/bihar-arts-crafts/sikki-craft

Generally, munj is used for coiling purpose due to its abundance in Mithila region of Bihar. It is completely coiled over and covered with sikki in such manner that it’s not visible.  Takua, the main tool is a six-inch long needle-shaped iron object with a rounded head which is used to grip the needle. Usually, the takua is used by the right hand and the product is held accordingly by the left hand. To make sikki grass more pliable it is dabbed with water. No threads or cords are used.

Even though sikki is a golden colored grass, various colors are added to it to make attractive products from it. Purple, deep blue, bright yellow, magenta, green and red all combined with the natural golden color of sikki grass are popularly used. The coloring is achieved by boiling sikki in different colors until the desired shade is reached.

Image source: http://www.umsas.org.in/en/bihar-arts-crafts/sikki-craft

SIKKI PRODUCTS

  • Jhappa- Big containers with caps to store food
  • Mauni- Trays for fresh fruits, betel leaf and nuts, flowers, etc.
  • Pauti- Beautiful small boxes with caps to keep jewellery, Dry fruits, and other costly items.
  • Gumla- Bowl like containers for various uses
  • Saji- Flower Baskets
  • Idols
  • Baskets
  • Ornaments
  • Toys

 Due to the invasion of television and other forms of entertainments women have found new ways of spending their time. This has decreased the popularity of this craft form. Industries in the area have decreased the availability of Sikki grass. But still, some women practice this craft form, mainly in Madhubani, Darbhanga and Sitamarhi regions of Bihar.

 These days new products like mobile cases, toys, paper weights, pen stand and other products are made besides the traditional products. Coiling without using munj is done by some artisans. Also a new art form has emerged using Sikki grass inspired from the Madhubani paintings wherein sikki grass is stuck on patterns of Madhubani paintings.

  


You can always find the books of your choice in a library but seldom can you find both the writer and the book at one place. One such place in India is Jaipur Literature Festival. It is the world’s largest free event of its kind. In its 10 years, it has hosted 1300 speakers and 1.2 million book lovers. Man Booker Prize winners to debut authors, this place welcomes them all. In a society like ours, debate and discussion are integral since ages which JLF fulfills.

Source: instagram.com/jaipurlitfest

Not only writers but critics, historians, musicians, journalists, poets, activists, politicians and orators from all across the globe come together at one place for five days of readings, debates, and discussions. The festival takes place in the month of January in Diggi Palace in Jaipur and is a place of open expression.

Source: instagram.com/jaipurlitfest

Gulzar, Javed Akhtar, Sashi Tharoor and William Dalrymple are few names from the list of literary geniuses of the world who graced the festival. The venues were flooding with young, euphoric crowd dressed in chic and boho outfits. All five days of the festival started the Front Lawn venue beginning with Shillong Chamber Choir. The keynote address by Gulzar and Anne Waldman was the first session that officially marked JLF 2017’s beginning.

Source: instagram.com/jaipurlitfest

Of all the six venues of Diggi Palace, Cox and Kings Charbagh and Mughal Tent remained the most crowded on all five days. There were several book launches and readings by eminent literary figures. The discussions were everything from Sanskrit in Mughal Court to Shakespeare’s Restless World. While Hotel Clarks Amer hosted the music stage venue, Amber Fort became the venue for Heritage events.

Source: instagram.com/jaipurlitfest

Nicole who had come from Australia said,” I had come to India as a young girl about 30 years ago, I have been to all the states but here in JLF I’ve experienced the essence of India. The crowd is young and full of life, levitra en ligne not quite like the one we see in literary festivals. JLF has something for one and all”. Certainly, not just bookstores and session venues, there were stalls selling refreshments from international cuisines like Falafel and Hummus. Live sketch counter attracted a lot many bibliophiles.

Know more at https://jaipurliteraturefestival.org/

Facebook: Jaipurlitfestofficial

Instagram: jaipurlitfest

Twitter: @ZEEJLF

If you come to Jaipur to attend JLF don’t miss visiting the Rajasthani markets that sell miniature paintings and bandhej dupattas. Almost everything is available in shops in Bapu Baazar and Johri Baazar.  The forts of Nihargarh, Jaigarh and Amber are a must visit too.

 


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Image Source: www.anokhi.com/museum

The two-story pink sandstone haveli in the dusty lanes of Amber is usually easy to miss. Many of the locals know this as Chanwar Palkiwalaon ki Haveli and not Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing, eight miles outside Jaipur where women clad in the most colourful of sarees suspend their chat to wave at you.  The museum focuses on contemporary fabric ranging from innovative designs created by talented artisans to traditional outfits still worn in select regions today, albeit in dwindling numbers. A focused selection of historic textiles provides a context for a further understanding of block printing.

image source: http://josephinewilson.com/?p=417

Image Source: http://josephinewilson.com/?p=417

The one of its kind museum is an endeavour to preserve the community of artisans of 500-year-old block printing in Rajasthan. It was started by Anokhi, a clothing line selling block printed garments in stores across in India. The company was the brainchild of a British woman who married an Indian and moved to Jaipur in 1970, Faith Singh worked with local craftsmen to create contemporary prints on textiles that have become so popular in India and abroad. It was Ms Singh’s daughter-in- law Rachel Bracken-Singh who restored the dilapidated 17th- century mansion which once belonged to the palanquin bearers of the royals and turned it into a museum. This preservation project earned a UNESCO award for ‘Cultural Heritage Conservation’ in 2000. The old but well-maintained building is a cool relief from the desert heat.

 Large boards are put up in the open courtyard which explain the lengthy process of hand block printing. It all begins with the design to be printed on the textile. Once finalised—often floral, paisley or geometric—they are carved by hand onto wooden blocks which have been soaked in oil overnight and cleaned. These blocks are then used to print the pattern onto fabrics using natural vegetable dyes like indigo, pomegranate rind and turmeric in vibrant blues, reds and greens. 

 

 

 

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Image Source: www.google.com

 

 

Inside Anokhi

More than a hundred garments and blocks are on permanent display inside alcoves and galleries across two floors. There are ethnic designs and patterns  and also Western clothes in traditional prints, like knee-length dresses in shades of red and russet. On the roof-top terrace, a few craftsmen sit with their tools, ready to demonstrate their work to interested visitors. The museum also offers a 2-day course in block printing and wood carving to the enthusiasts. The museum shop carries a selection of hand-crafted merchandise which includes limited edition textiles, clothing, furnishings, jewellery, books and cards.

Anokhi is trying to preserve the dying craft which is overpowered by the more efficient and more economical machine-printing process damaging the livelihood of the artisans and threatening to extinguish an important craft. But it has a modern approach too. The team is always looking for new craftsmen and techniques to develop new garments in the main workshop on the outskirts of Jaipur. They have worked with a British designer to re-interpret William Morris’s prints, made costumes inspired by the Russian theatre, and worked their patterns into contemporary fashion—all of which are showcased in temporary exhibitions.

 

 

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Image Source: www.anokhi.com/museum

 

Visit them in Jaipur:
Chanwar Palkiwalon ki Haveli (Anokhi Haveli)
Kheri Gate, Amber, Jaipur
Tel:- 91 – 141 2530226 / 2531267

 

Museum Working Hours

  • Tuesday – Saturday : 10:30am – 5:00pm
  • Sunday : 11:00am – 4:30pm

Together with garments – Indian and Western in design – home textiles, sarongs and accessories, Anokhi offers a diverse and colourful selection of products in its 27 outlets in major cities of India. Anokhi doesn’t offer e-commerce.

Instagram @anokhijaipur

Facebook @AnokhiIndia

Here are some insights, with Ms. Rachel Bracken-Singh, the museum’s director:

Are there any festivals/events/Hand Printing workshops in the museum?

The museum offers regular works throughout the year. These are usually against request and range from individuals and small groups of enthusiasts to large school groups –from within India as well as visiting from abroad. School groups, college groups, design student groups – we tend to tweak the workshops to suit the particular need. While most workshops involve block printing we also offer block carving workshops. Throughout the day, the onsite printers and carvers demonstrate their skills and offer interactive sessions with visitors as they walk around.

 

What excites the visitors the most about your museum?

The response to the museum and what people enjoy most varies quite a bit. While most people love to try their own hand at block printing and also block carving, we find that there is a very clear appreciation for the overall quality of the experience from start to finish, in all the spaces at the museum. A great deal of attention has been given to clear and concise information and good visuals, and great care is taken in maintaining a high standard of care for the various striking and interesting textiles as well as tools, techniques, etc. The building is well worth a visit for that alone!! Visitors leave feeling that they have had a very positive, informative and satisfying and holistic experience.

 

How is the museum funded?

It is funded by Anokhi – we do not take outside financial support. The small shop there and museum publications go part way to supporting some of the costs.

 

What would you say to those looking forward to visit the museum?

Above all, I would recommend that any visitors coming to the museum should give as much time as they can to enjoy a complete experience – a full morning or an afternoon. The opportunity is there to fully absorb and appreciate one of India’s most beloved indigenous crafts,  set in a beautifully restored 16th century haveli. Interacting with the craftspeople and well-informed staff, and then enjoying a cup of desi chai in a traditional clay pot with a view of Amber’s enduring heritage is something to be savoured.

 

 

 

 


Content Research and Conceptualization by Kaavya Lakshman; Written by Ananya Maahir and Kaavya Lakshman

Sometimes it can be astonishing how generous nature has been while creating colours that they can be sourced from almost everywhere: white from rice flour, black from charcoal powder, yellow from turmeric powder, green from powdered green leaves, red from mixture of turmeric powder and lime and a combination from them can create something so beautiful that only the Gods could be associated with it. One such artform where these colours work wonders is Kalamezuthu.

image source: www.keralatourism.org

image source: www.keralatourism.org

As recorded on June 27, 2016 in The Hindu. “For many students of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Kodunganoor, it was perhaps their first glimpse of how five colours sourced from nature could be used to create art. The students had gathered at the school on Saturday afternoon to watch Theeyattu, an art form native to Central Travancore, as part of a cultural outreach programme organised by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Thiruvananthapuram centre, and the Infosys Foundation, Bengaluru. The students watched as Theeyattu practitioners Vaikom Sasidhara Sarma, Sreejith Sarma, Sarath Sarma, Hari Krishnan, and Vijayan Varriar used the coloured powders to draw a large figure of Bhadrakali using their thumb and index finger in a ritual called Kalamezhuthu.”

image source: www. thiraseela.com

image source:  www.thiraseela.com

History

In Malayalam, the literal meaning of kalam is picture and ezhuthu is the act of drawing. It is also known as “dhulee chithram”, as the painting is made solely of powder. The powder used is extracted solely from natural products. Kalamezhuthu is a unique form of floor art that is predominately found in South Kerala. It is a ritual art, done mainly in temples as well as at the entrance and courtyard of homes as a symbol of welcoming the deities in the house. It is a harmonious blend of Tribal, Dravidian and Arian cultures. Its association with sacred groves and  tantric elements is a later addition. 

 

Legends

The legends are mainly associated with goddess Kali, who is the central depiction of the art. When the Asuras Dharukan and Dhanavendran underwent severe penance, they were granted the privilege by Lord Shiva that they wouldn’t be vanquished by any man and along with this, every drop of blood spilt on earth will give birth to hundreds of further Asuras. The grant of these wishes emboldened them and they created havoc in all the three worlds. When Lord Shiva got to know of this, he opened his third eye and created the fierce Kali who was an incarnation of Shakti, consort of Shiva. Kali being a woman could kill them, and when the blood spilt, she drank all of it before it touched the ground. Thus, she vanquished them all. Narada went to Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva, and recounted the victorious battle between Kali and the Asuras. While narrating, he drew a terrifying illustration of the events, thus giving birth to Kalamezhuthu.

image source: www.delhievents.com

image source: www.delhievents.com

Traditions

Ritualistic festivals in Kerala begin from the Malayalam month of and it continues through the harvest season, until the pre monsoon showers. Kalamezhuthu is a part of the worship of gods like Kali, Ayyappan and Vettakkorumakan. The artists are members of communities like Kurups, Theyyam padi Nambiars, Theeyadi Nambiars and Theeyadi Unnis. Traditionally, Kurups are in-charge of Kalamezhuthu. The Velichapad is a priest who is believed to be possessed by the divine spirit. He plays an important role in the Kalamezhuthu. On the day of the offering, the venue is set up by the Kurups by making the Koora (roof), for the Kalam (drawing) and Pattu (song). After this the Kalam is done, starting in the afternoon. The neighborhood is informed of the Kalamezhuthu by the Sandhya Pattu– song at dusk. The traditional musical instruments – ilathalam, veekkan chenda, kuzhal, kombul and chenda – are used in the performance. The Velichapad does the Kalampradhakshinam or Kala Pradaksinam– circling the Kalam with rhythmic steps in tune with the music. The Kurup does the Thiriuzhichal– removing the negative vibes with lighted wicks. After this the Velichapad does the Nalikarameru– throwing of coconuts. The song changes to Kalapattu or Kalam Pattu, a vibrant and mesmerizing song, to which the Velichapad does the Kalathylaattam dance. The grand finale is the most spectacular event of the evening. The priest does the Kalam Maykal– dance in a frenzy that simultaneously erases the Kalam. This denotes the Kalasam– end of the Kalamezhuthu.

image source: www.cyberkerala.com

image source: www.cyberkerala.com

 

Description of the painting

 The canvas of the artist is the floor and he usually makes use of only 5 colors. The scale of the painting ranges from 3-5 meters, making it neither miniature nor gigantic. The work is done with bare hands, without the use of tools. It takes more than two hours to finish the painting. The work starts from the centre and moves outwards. The design is either two dimensional or three dimensional. Above the kalam, decorations such as canopy of palm fronds, garlands of red hibiscus flowers and ocimum leaves (tulasi) are hung. Lighted ball metals are placed on the four corners of the drawing. The patterns of the painting vary depending on the occasion and not on the artist’s choice. It is interesting to note that the expression of the figures depict anger and intense emotions. The deities depicted in the art form are Goddess Bhadrakali, Lord Ayyappa, and the serpent god Naga Devata.

image source: www.thirasleela.com

image source: www.thirasleela.com

Organizations

 The Lalit Kala Akademi organises the Kamalezhuthu Festival that gives people a taste of the art form as well as the performance associated with it to highlight   the roots of fine arts and aesthetic sensibilities of Kerala.

Address : Lalit Kala Akademi, Rabindra Bhavan, 35, Ferozeshah Road, New Delhi-110001/ lka@lalitkala.gov.in

Telephone: 011 – 23009200

Fax: 011 – 23009292

Website: http://lalitkala.gov.in/

Information: Dr. Kalyan Kumar Chakravarty , Chairman, Lalit Kala Akademi / chairman@lalitkala.gov.in

Mr. Ramakrishna Vedala, Secretary, Lalit Kala Akademi / secretary@lalitkala.gov.in

 

 

 


Content Research by Shivanki Kannan

Ever played board games when you want to spend a good time with your family and friends or just when you are too lazy to go out?

All of us have played games like Uno, Carrom, Snakes and Ladders and Ludo which require us to go out and purchase the paraphernalia. But what about games whose counts can be found at home itself? Sounds interesting right? Such a game is Chouka. It is a board game that encourages players to stay at home and make use of things easily available  in Indian houses (sea shells(cowries), broken bangles and tamarind seeds) to play by making squares on the floor. Chouka Bhara or Chouka as it is popularly known is played in all parts of India under different names and rules; in Tripura, Chowka is a ‘Race Game’ where in two to four players race their respective coins on a board of 5×5 squares to reach the inner most square. The movement of coins is controlled by throw of four cowrie  shells, hence it is a game of chance. Since each player has four coins, he can decide which coin to move; hence it also comes under strategic games. This game is an example of a partially observable system that involves an element of chance introduced by the roll of special dice and an element of strategy (the strategy being the pawn the player decides to move after the roll of the dice).

 

image source- www.desitoys.com

image source- www.desitoys.com

THE HISTORY

Like Snakes and Ladders, Chouka too was invented in the Vedic era, it traces its history to the Indian epic of Mahaharata which narrates the story of a warrior clan, the major part of it being about The Pandavas losing a game of Chouka to their cousins The Kauravas with their entire kingdom and wealth and a battle that followed for the reconquest of their lost kingdom. It was played mostly during the royal era and this game was mainly developed to improve the counting skills of the children. However, it also taught the kids war tactics and strategies as well as eye-to-hand coordination. It is known by different names in different states of India, Challas Aath in Maharashtra, Kavidi kali in Madhya Pradesh, Khaddi Khadda in Punjab and many other typical names.

THE SETUP

It is normally played in a 5×5 square board.  But one can also increase the number of squares depending on the number of players to any odd number squared (for example, 11×11). Assuming the size of the board is NxN (with N being odd), then each player will have N-1 pawns. But the 5×5 and 7×7 versions are more popular. The squares are drawn on floor or a custom made board usually covered with silk are used.

THE PRESENT

This is primarily a game of chance, but involves thinking and planning. It also helps in developing counting skills. It is an interesting and fun way to develop strategy skills.  Also there are several online sites (www.desitoys.com) which sell the Chouka boards and related items. Sometimes the boards are made more attractive by doing Madhubani paintings on them. The popularity of the game has decreased with the introduction of new games and technology. Chouka is taking a different turn with people launching the android and online version of the game, regaining its popularity.


Content Research and Conceptualization by Kaavya Lakshman; Written by Ananya Maahir and Kaavya Lakshman

God’s own country Kerala is home to a variety of dance forms that have been developed, practised and polished over due course of time. Out of the many captivating ones practised, a lesser known one is the temple dance form is Thidambu Nrithyam.

Over 700 years, this dance form is believed to have its root in the culture and traditions of North Malabar. One of the most popular of all myths on the origin of this dance form centres around Akoora, a devotee of Lord Krishna, who was in search of the Lord’s footsteps!

It is a tough task to master this unconventional form of dancing. One such maestro is Brahmashree Puthumana Govindan Namboothiri.  BPG Namboothiri “Guruji” is a distinguished Thidambu Nrithyam artist at Kerala Temples. His unique style of performance makes even the laymen praise this attractive dance form across the length and breadth of country including cities like Bengaluru, Trivandrum, Kochi, Thrissur and Calicut.

Image Source- www.paradise-kerala.com

Image Source- www.paradise-kerala.com

The performance of the marvellous dance form involves the artist to carry the Thidambu or the decorated idol of the deity on his head. It is a conventional practise for the artist to be a male member of a Brahmin family. The replicas are made up of bamboo and are adorned with gold and flowers weighing an astonishing 10 kgs. While performing, the dancers wear a skirt of pleated cloth, silk vest, earrings, bangles, necklaces and delightfully decorated turbans known as Ushnipeetam. Restricted use of facial expressions and emotions makes this dance form a peculiar one. Drumbeats correspond to particular footsteps of the dancer. It is one of the oldest dance forms which has, like other dance forms, allowed for accommodation of newer trends in style and performance. However, the basic steps and the unyielding devotion has withstood the test of time!

Image Source- www.paradise-kerala.com

Image Source- www.paradise-kerala.com