This article was originally created for, and published on, a UNESCO supported umbrella of initiatives that makes heritage fun, written by Hashid Sarfaraz.



The term Gypsies of a Lahore has come to describe people of different regions of Punjab/Pakistan and settled in the city Lahore with more opportunities for survival.

“Gypsies are known as Nomadic people”

In Lahore they almost live in every corner but the biggest community of gypsies are on the way of the famous Grand Trunk Road crossing Shahdara Bridge along the historically significant River Ravi.


These people are

  • politically marginalized
  • largely alienated
  • deprived of the basic rights


  • social rights
  • earning opportunities
  • illiterate
  • they have got at least 8-10 children

Bitter Reality:

  • begging is the main source of income
  • only two individuals have basic education among the Shahdara community
  • the more the kids, the more the earning hand

Occupation:(most of the families lives on the daily wages=labourers)

  • begging
  • drum beating
  • monkey show
  • selling balloons
  • selling fish, chicken, tortoise outside schools
  • clay toys

They are different from nomadic gypsy tribes who are constantly on move, never choosing to settle in any place, they instead do not travel to other parts of the country. they only leave when government launches an operation and forces them to leave.

They have strong roots in caste system. They mostly claim themselves to be Mughals, Sheikhs or Rajputs. Currently in Lahore they find their places to live in the following areas; Defense, Garden Town, Johar Town, Faisal Town, Model Town, Shahdara and Wafaqi Colony. They amount to about half a million within the 10 million population of Lahore itself. This means that every 19th person in the city is nomad and homeless.

Besides the plight of this community they are often found with these colourful patterns in the form of sheets or quilts commonly called the ‘Ralli’s’ which means bringing together various things and binding them hence the word ‘patchwork’ is used for this kind of work. Although all these communities are found with these patchworks but basically its the craft of ‘Sindh’ region in Pakistan, the craft involves the manipulation of the fabric in three most popular forms i.e combining patchwork, appliqué and embroidery to make up these quilts.

True, original rallis are made by hand, stitch by stitch using only fabric, threads and scissors. The ralli patterns closely resembles the ‘painted pottery of Indus Valley’region from over 3000 years ago.

The most fascinating fact about the manufacturing of this product is that the women making it do not have any kind of design being written down or laid out before them, its just in the form of a mental portfolio in the memories if these women.

Special quilts are often followed by a complete fabric at the back. Quilting is especially festive when the quilt is for a marriage and the sewing is accompanied by singing and stories shared by the ladies among each other. There are legends, folk songs and sayings about ralli. Wealth if a family in the region is determines by the number of rallis they own.


These rallis are used for sleeping, the old ones are employed as padding for animals, square rallis are used to cover the floor and then food is served above the piece, food mats, very special rallis are made for dowry or wedding gifts as well as a gift to a local ‘holy man’.

Special rallis are embellished with mirrors, sequins, beads, tassels made from silk or yarn and shells. These quilts are made and assembled by women who have been taught textiles from childhood, girls start quilting at the age of 12, which not only sharpens their mind but also let them memorize patterns easily. This skill helps the women find a good partner in terms of marriage as a perk for their special skill.

Recycling: Traditionally rallis were made from recycled and hand dyed cotton cloth. They collect rags from  homes and also asked their neighbors for old clothes and rags. The production of ralli can be found in Sindh in Umerkot and Tharparkot.

The making of ralli in different color schemes, patterns, designs, typology of making varies as we move from lower Sindh to Upper Sindh where lower part involves intricate quilts in black/white, red/yellow, black/white and red/yellow color schemes.

Middle Sindh is followed by many variations in the ralli designs with color schemes that includes white, black, red, yellow, orange, green, blue and purple.

Upper Sindh, famous for intricate blocks of appliqué and sometimes embroidery, multiple borders, tassels in the corner or the entire quilt.

Sindh(Northern), these rallis have very distinct features. I the area of Rahim Yar Khan, rallis consisted of q path blocks with very fine appliqué block, square borders or mix patchwork and appliqué and the use of muted tones/colors.

This article was originally created for, and published on, a UNESCO supported umbrella of initiatives that makes heritage fun.
By Rubina

Folk arts have existed for centuries as a simple productional form, and have become more and more complicated with time. 

Take the example of Belarus, where the wooden filigree technique was found at the end of the xxxx century. This historical craft is all about modifying old objects in the form of pottery, glass and textile productions with interesting and unique artistic attitudes. 

A plate decorated in the technic of Sozh skan’ (filigree) [1]

These productions, mostly small-scale, are based on wide use of hand tools and personal skills of craft workers to ensure high quality. Take the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius monastery in Sergiev Posad town of Russia, which had Amvorsij, a talented monk in the 15th century, who was an outstanding carver and jeweler of his time.

Wooden swarfs [5]

The monk created an icon, which was decorated with wooden chips which became a prominent masterpiece of the Grand Duchy of Moscow. It is located at the Museum of the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius in Russia. 

Icon of St. Nicolas with a frame in Sozh filigree technic

The unique religious artwork was discovered by noted Belarusian artist Vladimir Tsekunov who brought this craft back to life in the 1990s, and founded a school in the technique. The art craft is a complicated combination of wooden chips for decoration and creation of unique artistic works. Tsekunov created a special machine with tweezers for wood shavings, which are need for a working process. 

In addition, the master and all his students do not use any additional paints. All works have natural wooden colors without any additional chemical elements. The colors are different because the masters use different types of wood, which give different shades and colors during the process. The width of a wooden chip is no more than a millimeter , and are fixed with liquid glue.  A matte vanish is then applied to the artwork emphasize the beauty of the wood, where a microscope gives sometimes only an opportunity to see the smallest parts of compositional details of this ” timber mosaic”.

Vladimir Tsekunov

There are a limited number of specialists, who work in this technique, such as Sergey Podolnitsky, Michael Shumsky, Eugene Shvetsov and Sergey Kuzmenkon whowork as filigree masters in their own unique styles.

This art, such as the Icon of St. Maria’s heart, a present to Pope Francis the sixth is a unique masterpiece, which cannot be recreated again. Some of these masterpieces are jewelry boxes, panels, and even icons and were given as presents abroad to many famous personalities, such as Queen Elizabeth II, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis and others.

Icon of St. Maria’s heart, the present from the president of Belarus to Pope Francis [6]




3) V.V. Tsekunov 1st and 2nd part of film [online:]




Everyone remembers playing a game of Ludo or Snakes & Ladders be it on a hot summer day or a cool winter evening. These board games that form such a beloved part of our childhood actually take their origins much far behind in history. One such game is Chowka Bhara.

In former princely states like Tripura, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharastra, Tamil Nadu , Kerala and Punjab, Chowka Bhara was a favorite past time. The game uses easily available articles like sea shells, broken bangles and tamarind seeds, broken bangle bits and coins. The players seek to move them across a 5 by 5 square drawn on the board to reach an inner space called “home”. It is played in a squares format on the floor.



Fig: A Chowka Board

Fig:A custom made board




The four player game Each player have four pawns (coins, bangle bits etc) starting at different positions at the four crossed squares at the outermost ring. The rules of game

Chowka Bhara Board-(×5.jpg )

How the game works: 

  1. The board is always kept in the center during the game.
  2. Each player has a different starting point and initially keeps all his coins there (marked by X on his side).
  3. Each player takes turn to throw all four cowrie shells on the floor and moves one of his coins according to the number as indicated by the shells.
  4. Movement of coins is in anti-clockwise direction in outer squares and then in clockwise direction in inner squares as shown by the arrow in the diagram.
  5. If a player’s coin lands on a square occupied by opponent’s coin. The opponent’s coin is cut and the player gets an extra turn to play.
  6. The cut coin returns to its starting home square and has to go round all over again.
  7. The crossed squares (home squares) though, are safe places and no coins present here can be cut.
  8. When a coin reaches the square left of its home square, it further moves up into the inner squares in clockwise direction. Each coin finishes its race when it manages to get into the innermost crossed square.
  9. The first player to get all his coins into the innermost square wins the game.

Extra Turn:

  • Whenever a chowka or a bhara (four or eight) is got during a throw of cowrie shells, the player gets a bonus turn to throw the cowries.
  • When a player cuts opponent’s coin, he gets an extra turn to play.
  • During an extra turn, either the same coin or some other coin can be played.

This ‘Game of Chance’ finds relevance in mythology Mahabharata. Evidently,in two or four player format this game involves an element of chance by the roll of special dice and an element of strategy .

The Chowka Bhara board game is still played to improve the counting skills of the children . As important aspect of personality development, it was used to teach kids war tactics and strategies as well as eye-to-hand coordination in earlier time.

Want to try this game now? Check out the ‘ Store’ section to buy Chowka Bhara at Nazariya.

Happy Shopping!


Author: Noah Unathraj

Image Source:

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see”, quoted the famous French artist Edgar Degas. Yes indeed in my perspective art is something more imaginative, profound and absorbing to the human soul. It frees out mind and body from the busy mauhauul of everyday life and looking up to something which is delightful and engrossing in a heartfelt manner. Art is the involuntary susceptibility that an insaan feels in a warm way. India is “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” unity in diversity hence has engulfed emulsions of many art forms and has become the hunting ground for souls of peoples engrossed in art. Today I am to present you something of an art which has lost its prominence 4 centuries ago. Though it has not totally died down precisely, it has almost been on the verge of extinct but has some time ago resurged back to life by none other than Mister Darshanam Mogilaiah the one of the very few survivors of this extricated instrument titled “The Kinnera” (a string instrument).

A  re-known artiste of the Telangana state, in fact the one person in the country playing the 12-step kinnera, hailing from Ayusaolni kunta village of the Mahabubnagar district in Telangana state. He belongs to a low esteemed family where his forefathers have dedicated their lives in an urge to empower and boost up the spirits of the people to take part in freedom struggle against the British by playing the instrument and singing patriot songs in synch. The “Dakkali” tribe has put in their flesh and soul for design and working of the instrument, has actively participated in the freedom movement. “Dakkali” have been a Chenchu race breed and brought up through odds and slavery right from the start by the landlords and the upper caste people in the society and hence in order to revolt against them have invented the device to unite the people of all the lower caste in their society and have struggled for their freedom and fought their way out.   

Kinnera is a stringed instrument like Desi Veena, has 12 steps which is able to produce 12 different tunes with the 2 strings that are mounted on them. The instrument uses bamboo for the neck, dried and hollowed gourds for resonators, human hair or animal nerves for strings and pangolin scales for frets which are fixed using honey-wax. According to Adivasi studies state that the Chenchus have lost the instrument half century ago when the gourd used for resonator became extinct in this region. This has come into lime light while researching about Panduga Sayanna a Telangana fighter. The dakkali singers sang in his praise using “Kinnera”.  It has almost taken 3 years to trail out and explore this history through the help of Dakkali Pochaiah.

Darshanam Mogilaiah

Image Source:

Darshanam Mogilaiah aged 65 has been the forerunner of this instrument now. He belongs to “Madiga Mastin” tribe which is a sub-caste of community. He has been a master of this art and 5th generation artiste in the family which has been playing the “Kinnera”. He is skilled at frolicking the 12 step music singing mostly in praise of Meera Saab who according to a legend, lived during the Wanaparthy Samsthan 400 years ago in Mahabubnagar. Meera Saab, a Robinhood-type do-gooder, used to rob the rich and feed the poor. His ancestors constructed the kinnera with 8 steps or more, Mogilaiah is the only one to build up to 12 steps to produce different tunes with the 2 strings. He uses dried fruit, coconuts or dried horns positioned at 12 places on the instrument, helping generate a different type of music. The ‘twelve frets’ of the Kinnera are made of ‘bull horn’, who have been his treasure which are permanent while the others when worn out can be replaced. He speaks “The Chiluka (parrot) is also a very important element of my Kinnera as it starts dancing along with me in many of my rhythmic songs.” He says people must recognize the sacrifice being made to protect the heritage of the local songs and rising voice on social issues through his family tradition.

With times and advent of electronic instruments, it’s on the wane- perhaps extinct. He is perhaps among the few living bards who can play the instrument and perform. This enthralling singing in hand with the instrument is an experience to live up. He just doesn’t want to be recognized as a performer of this wonderful instrument, but preserve the art of it. Through his endeavors he has received a fillip in the form of Dasari Ranga, a research scholar of Osmania University, who is doing a thesis on “Karshaka Geetalu” (folk songs of agricultural workers) has arranged a program to showcase the art resulting in authorities of Telugu University and University oh Hyderabad (UoH) for introducing a course on kinnera folk art for which Mogilaiah could be an instructor.    

Music is the entity which binds a person together irrespective of his caste, creed and color. Even though its origin is from the flock flare it has found out its way through and has been an important criterion in enhancing and encouraging the morale of the people even at hardships, thought dead has risen out now in order to re-mesmerize back the people and showcase its versatility on the world stage and give the while a wider perspective of so many such art forms which are there lying underneath waiting for an opportunity for them to be resurged back to life.    

This article was originally created for, and published on, a UNESCO supported umbrella of initiatives that makes heritage fun.
By Roshini Murlidhara

The origin of the city of Bangalore occurred as a trade centre. Kempegowda, the visionary founder of the city, established the Bangalore Pete(city) area in 1537.A.D around the mud fort.He invited traders from across the country to establish their business and make Bangalore a successful trading post.

Kempegowda’s dream took shape in the form of an oval shaped Pete area with two main streets, the Chikkapete street running east-west and the Doddapete street running north-south.The intersection of these two streets was called the Doddapete Square(now Avenue road).Four gates were erected at the four cardinal points namely Halasoor(east),Sondekoppa(west),Yelahanka(north) and Anekal(south).In order to organize the functioning of the various traders, Kempegowda came up with an ingenious idea of forming several layouts,each catering to a certain trade or profession.For example, Doddapete(Dodda means big) was for big business establishments ,Chikkapete(Chikka means small) was for small business establishments, Akkipete(Akki means rice) was for rice traders, Ragipete(Ragi means red millet) was for ragi traders,balepete (bale means bangles) was for bangle traders, Ganigarapete was for oil traders, Nagarthapete was for Gold traders, Gollarpete was for cowherds & cattle traders, Kurubarapete was for sheep traders, Thigalarapete was for farmers of Tigala community, Upparapete (Uppu means salt) was for salt traders, Aralepete (now Cottonpete) for cotton traders, Kumbarapete for pot traders and many more such petes.

bangalore heritage market An artist's impression of the pete area

An artist’s impression of the pete area (

The Pete area initially evolved as a pedestrian precinct with the public spaces growing into bazaar streets, temple squares and open grounds and even till today it continues to be a pedestrian bazaar with a deep network of crowded streets with a cross-cultural identity,social history and economic geography.Though the Pete area has a longer history than the British cantonment,after its establishment in 1809,the Pete area lost its importance because of the better facilities such as wider roads and drainage systems in the cantonment area and the city was divided into the old town(Pete area) and the new town(cantonment area).

bangalore heritage market the pete area today

The pete area today

The British, after consolidating their rule in Bangalore, felt the need for a market that catered to the growing population and its needs. T B Russell ,the then municipal commissioner, initiated the construction of Russell market in 1927, which is now  a landmark market in Bangalore.He wanted to ensure that the cantonment area had a market area with the necessary supplies of meat, flowers, fruits and vegetables under one roof. The market place with brickwork of lime and mortar, roofing with corrugated aluminium sheets supported by steel girders was constructed in Indo-Sarcenic style using features of bulbous domes capped with Gothic spires from Hindu architecture and scalloped arches from Islamic architecture.

bangalore heritage market An old picture of russel market

An old picture of russel market

bangalore heritage market The russell market of today

The russell market of today

In the lines of Russell market,the Krishna Rajendra market(K.R.Market or City market) was established in 1928 in an area which acted as a buffer zone(earlier a battlefield) between the native town and the fort area.There used to be an extensive platform known as Siddikatte where vendors from the nearby village sold their produce and this area soon developed into a huge market place.

bangalore heritage market The KR market of now

The KR market of now

Another such market that came into existence was the Johnson market at Richmond road in 1929.It was often referred to as Russell market’s poor cousin.It was formerly called as Richmond town market as it catered to that locality and was renamed after a British civil servant.The land on which the market sits belonged to Aga Ali Asker, a rich businessman from Persia, who is said to have donated the plot for the market.Apart from being a trading centre, this market also boosts of some exotic eateries like Makkah café famous  for tea, Fanoos and Madeena stores famous for samosas.

bangalore heritage market An old picture of Johnson market

An old picture of Johnson market

bangalore heritage market the Johnson market today

The Johnson market today

Another example of such market is the Murphy town market which is one of the premium meat selling markets in Bangalore.Formerly called as Knoxpet, this area was renamed as Murphy town in honour of the engineer W.H.Murphy who improved the sanitary conditions of the area by establishing underground drainage systems.

bangalore heritage market The Murphy town market now

The Murphy town market now

These markets have been an integral part of the city’s history and even though the city has developed into an urban metropolitan, these markets have stood the test of time and today are architectural marvels of their kind.These structures are one of the few recognised heritage sites within the city and are also bangaloreans favourite choice when it comes to shopping..!!

How can one define culture?

Culture defiantly speaks about a lot of possible horizons. Culture is infinite. Culture is a way of living.

The current generations is living an exemplar life. With the touch of 1900’s and the modernisation of 2000’s, this generation has been familiar with culture so far. But there exists a place where people are losing their touch with their roots, they are losing the significance of their background and emerging in the tech savvy, contemporary lifestyle where we might forget that all that we might be leaving behind is what comprises our history, our painting.

Anthropologically speaking, the concept of culture is an idea of single importance, for it provides a set of principles for explaining and understanding human behaviour. And the concept of cultural space is a boost for living a life which would correlate both our modern lifestyle and our culture altogether.

Therefore, a cultural space is a space or a community which has its own culture and since India is abundant with its variant cultures, cultural spaces are a very attractive idea here.

So far India has been enriched with few amazing cultural spaces which aim to uphold the culture for the people all over the world to experience and be a part of. These cultural spaces are a tourist attraction as well as a platform for people who practice certain culture which might be fading in the world but through cultural spaces, they aren’t fading anymore.

The most successful cultural spaces of India are the following:


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Located in Banjara hills, Hyderabad, Lamakaan (meaning the abode of homeless)has become a contemporary addition to the city’s culture. Being a non-profit cultural centre which provides space for events such as arts, literature, theatre music and debates, Lamakaaan was Established in March 2010 by Ashhar Farhan, Humera Ahmed, Biju Mathew and Elahe Hiptoola. The day to day events are managed by Subbareddy Adapala.

Lamakaan hosts concerts of local artists like Warsi Brothers, Ateeq Hussain and many other. It conducts various book releases, plays, seminars and events like Wikipedia meetups. Lamakaan  has become an important part of Hyderabad for the artists but also as an open liberal space, where under the sun people can sit and talk and enhance all that’s around.

Lamakaan being such a positive space has been through rough closure threats but so far it overcame the threats and the establishment stands with the same aura. Lamakaan is a space that inspires.

About Lamakaan

Address Near GVK One, Road 5, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad.

Contact number +91 9642731329

Opening hours 10 am to 10 pm

Entry charges ticket for any events does not exceed Rs.100/

Web Address 


3Image Source:                                                      


Saraya is beautiful cultural space in Sangolda that is in the heart of Goa. Saraya is a Sanskrit word meaning “to begin, to flow.” It’s a space where creativity, art culture, food and eco living flows together in an explicit nature. It’s designed by Deeksha Thind, owner of Saraya and also serves as the chef and architect of the place.

Saraya is a confluence of artistic minds and energies. The main attraction is the 300 year old Portuguese house which holds itself as the art gallery where artists, sculptors, writers, musicians and theatre groups come to share their work and promote the local culture. Besides this Saraya also holds many workshops like workshop on Satori music and teaches various Prana movements. Also Saraya provides a stunning outdoor café with delicious meal and hostel facility which are so cheap that it makes this place a total steal away. Starting from Rs.500 to Rs.1500 depending on the rooms. Cherry on the top- They give you free Breakfast!

Ergo, Saraya is a must visit in Goa. It has an amazing energy.

About Saraya

Address House #64, Chogm Road, Sangolda, Bardez, Goa, 403511

Contact +91 8888926811, email-

Opening hours 5 pm to 11pm

Cost Rs.600 for two people approx.

Web address 




A non-funded cultural space in the capital established in 2012 by Jana Natya  Manch (Janam)- one of India’s leading political street theatre groups. Taken care by Studio Safdar Trust, this is a place dedicated to creating an alternative and affordable space in Delhi for enactment and experimenting with art. Studio Safdar mainly supports activities which are involved with the exploration of multiple intersections of communities and politics.

Studio Safdar is platform which is perfect in order to discuss social issues and talk about the fading cultures and how they can be brought back in the society.

So far it’s new but it’s working on its pace. It’s a nice space for spending time watching drama all around and rehearsing. Studio Safdar is type of cultural space which is promoting theatre in an era where people are more inclined towards movies. Great effort by the trust is resulting in something  so good as Studio Safdar is a hope for all the theatre groups around Delhi and other places.

About Studio Safdar

Address 2254/2A Shadi Khampur, Guru Nanak Nagar, New Ranjeet Nagar, New Delhi-110008

Contact +91 9818386114| 011 2570 9456

Opening hours 11am to 8pm

Entry charges FREE

Web address


7                                                          8

From Indian pottery to plethora of weaves, woodwork, jewellery, clothes and local crafts of each region of the country, Shilparamam is a fantasy of India’s colour, diversity and talent.  Established in 1992, Shilparamam is spread over 65 acres in Madhapur.

This cultural space is regarded as an never ending cycle of festivals of arts and crafts which presents ethnic art, crafts and skills of the rural folk from all parts of the country.

The most interesting part of Shilparamam is its rural museum. It’s the epitome of classic Indian village depicting rural and tribal lifestyles. It’s a window for the city dwellers and people around the world to see the rural lifestyle.

However, Shilparamam is Hyderabad’s tribute to India’s natural beauty and rich cultural heritage.

About Shilparamam

Address Hi Tech City Main Road, Madhapur, Near Cyber Towers, Hyderabad, Telangana 500081

Contact no +91 4064518164

Opening Hours 10:30 am to 8pm

Entry Charges For Adults INR 40 and for Children INR 20




9                                  10

10km south of the Adyar river is a bohemian artist village, spread over 10 acres is Cholamandal Artists Village- this artist village is a serene point to relax. Founded in 1966 by artists of the Madras Movement, Cholamandal is India’s largest self-supporting artist’s village and one of the most successful in Asia.

K.C.S. Paniker, painter and the visionary behind Cholamandal, gave India contemporary Indian art. Today it’s a major attraction, this beautiful village is amazingly equipped with everything which needs it to make a hub for contemporary art. Especially the open air theatre- Bharathi, which conducts many conferences, discussions and seminars.

Cholamandal Artist Village has earned massive respect and holds a great reputation all around the world. It believes in art only and is holding the responsibility of portraying contemporary art in the best way ever!

About Cholamandal Artist Village

Address E Coast Road, Cholamandal Artists Village, Injambakkam, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600115

Contact No 044 2449 0092

Opening Hours 9:30 am to 6:30 am

Entry charges Rs. 20 for Adults and Rs.5 for Children



12                                                          11

Smriti Nandan Cultural Centre is a perfect example of alliance between culture and modernity. The mainstream focus of this centre is directed towards preserving the traditions and cultures for the present as well as future generations. They’ve evolved traditions and new legends of music, art, design, theatre, craft and beauty for the people of Bangalore to experience the culture they’ve been leaving behind.

Every month Smriti Nandan conducts cultural programmes which are mainly about philosophy and spirituality, folk theatre, literary events, designing, Film making, music, craft, art, dance etc.

They move along with the modern energy and traditional motifs creating a splashing exposure to our heritage.


About Smriti Nandan Cultural Center

Address 15/3, Palace Rd, Vasanth Nagar, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560052

Contact No 080 2225 8091

Opening hours Monday to Friday: 9 am to 6 pm

Entry Charges Rs.150 (including one house drink)


The entire concept of having a cultural space is outstanding as our culture this way never really dies; it stays and stays until people associated with them uphold them. Cultural space not only brings responsibility for people to stay close to their roots but also brings them nostalgia with flashback to their history. The above discussed cultural spaces are so far making so much difference in India and its people as this concept is walking side by side with living the tradition and living the modern life.

As long as people loving their culture and roots exist, it might not fade but stay for numerous future generations to see what cultural extravaganza is India!

Author: Priyanka Nair

Pabuji ki Phad

Amidst the arid sands of Thar and patches of scanty vegetation and greenery, the spirit and chivalry of this land of magnificent forts and its people piques one’s interest. The state of Rajasthan has been able to preserve its rich cultural legacy in its varied forms, be it art, architecture or cuisine. Various schools (gharanas) of Hindustani music and miniature paintings, dance forms like Ghoomar and Kalbelia are still an integral part of the cultural life of Rajasthan. Among these well-known art forms, Phad paintings occupy a special place, which underscore the glorious past of Rajasthan.

Phad art is a style of religious-folk painting made on a piece of cloth that resembles a large scroll. Phad in local dialect means ‘fold’ and this is used as a canvas to depict various episodes from the life of local deities, mainly Pabuji and Devnarayan. Lord Devnarayan is believed to be the incarnation of Hindu god Vishnu and Pabuji, the incarnation of Laxman (brother of lord Rama).

This art form is more than seven hundred years old and this style of painting is mainly done by Joshi families of Bhilwara district in Rajasthan. Long time ago, Chochu Bhat, a profound devotee of Lord Devnarayan commissioned the ‘Joshi family’ to illustrate the entire life of the folk-deity on Phad. From then onwards, Joshi families have become the traditional torchbearers of this art form.

Artist at work

Making Phad paintings is a long and elaborate process, and artists take a month or more to complete it. The artist not only paints but also makes the Phad (cloth canvas) and colours. Hand-spun cotton cloth is preferred and has to be processed so that the artist gets the required smooth canvas. Artists use plants, vegetables and stones to make natural colours, which help in preserving Phad paintings for long.

The entire life of the deity or epic-hero is shown on a Phad. The Phad is divided into various sections, each section depicting a particular episode from the life of the deity. The size of a particular figure portrays the social status and the importance of its role in the story. The unique feature of this art form is that the figures face each other and not the viewer.

After the completion of the painting, these Phads are used as ‘mobile temples’, where the bhopas (singer- priests) unroll the Phad after sunset, perform customary rituals and start narrating the epic stories of folk deities. Each episode is narrated on the basis of the paintings drawn on the Phad. The narration goes on throughout the night and is accompanied by music, hymns and dance.

Narration accompanied by music brings the epic characters to life

Various renowned Phad painters like Shree Lal Joshi, Nand Kishor Joshi, Pradeep Mukherjee, and Kalyan Joshi through their creative and innovative techniques have given a new lease of life to this art form. Shree Lal Joshi and Nand Kishor Joshi went to the extent of starting learning centres in Bhilwara to spread this invaluable knowledge to new artists irrespective of caste or any other religious bias. These artists left no stone unturned to revitalize this art form.

Artists play an imperative role in preserving knowledge associated with art forms like Phad. Team members of Nazariya came across such an inspiring artist in Delhi. Shankar Lal Bhopa who hails from a small village near Jaipur, came to Delhi twenty-five years ago to make a living. He is well-versed in oil painting and Phad art, and has exhibited his works at Craft fairs in Delhi Haat and Global Art Village in Dubai. He has been able to carve out a niche for himself, but says that advent of digital printing and related technology has affected his work. Nevertheless, he tries to focus on his work as this is his only ‘possession’ and he intends to carry forward the rich legacy of his father.

Author: Nithul Krishna


 The evolution of Kalaripayattu happened in South India. The sage Agastya Muni is believed to have created this ancient martial-arts form.  Kalaripayattu trainings are traditionally done inside the Kalari and are undertaken by trainers traditionally titled as Guru or Asan. Describing the Kalari , it has Puttara .  The Puttara is a seven tiered platform placed in the south-west corner and houses the guardian deity of the Kalari. The seven tiers symbolise the seven abilities that each person must possess: Vignesva (strength), Channiga (patience), Vishnu (power to command), Vadugashcha (the posture), Tadaguru (training), Kali (the expression) and Vakasta – purushu (sound). Other deities, most of them incarnations of the Bhagavathi or Shiva, are installed in the corners. Flowers, incense and water are offered to the deity every day.  The Guru or Asan in the Kalaris masters their students the esoteric physical and spiritual disciplines needed to master Kalaripayattu.

Agastya Muni was a short, well built man, who travelled for aeons , seeking and embracing the essence of various things that the nature exhibits . Wild life in his era happened to be quite populated in most of the areas. Unlike now, the tigers couldn’t be counted at those times,  as they reserved a gigantic population and was obviously ferocious en route the destinations , travellers were attacked by the Tigers and other animals . So, Agastya Muni evolved a system to fight the wildlife – if a tiger comes, how to handle it. As a self-defence, he taught martial arts to a few people just to manage the wildlife when they travelled, and it still lives.

Along with other art forms, which were perceived and enjoyed Kalaripayattu had an enormous consideration and was encouraged as an art form by its exponents. Art for entertainment has always thrived, even in tough economic times. But with Kalaripayattu the story has been different. It is slowly losing its original structure, due to lack of application in the present world.



The teacher in The Kalari is called Guru or Asan. Teachers of Ezhuthu Kalari or EzhuthuPalli too were known as Asan or Ezhuthassan. The traditional astrologer casteGanaka orKaniyar  were the Preceptors of fencing techniques. They are still addressed by the title Panickar in certain regions of Kerala. The Kaniyar community of Kerala, particularly central and northern region, by virtue of their past traditional occupation as teachers of a martial art (Kalari) are commonly known as Panicker. The northern style was practiced primarily by the Nairs and the Thiyyas, the two communities associated with the martial arts practice in Kerala as well as some Mappilas and Saint Thomas Christians. The southern style, called Adi Murai, was practiced largely by the Nadars and has features distinguishing it from its other regional counterparts. Northern kalaripayattu is based on elegant and flexible movements, evasions, jumps and weapons training, while the southern “Adi Murai” style primarily follows the hard impact based techniques with priority in empty hand fighting and pressure point strikes. Both systems make use of internal and external concepts.

Some of the flexibility training methods in northern Kalaripayattu are applied in Kerala dance forms and Kathakali dancers who knew martial arts were believed to be markedly better than the other performers. Some traditional Indian dance schools still incorporate Kalaripayattu as part of their exercise regimen.



Weapons used in Kalaripayatttu

   Kalaripayattu had its major transition in China. When people went to China, once they crossed the Himalayas, they faced wild men who were always looking to attack the traveller. So what they had learned to handle the wildlife, they used it on wild men. Once they started using it on people, you will see a distinct transformation in the martial arts. From a very crouching kind of martial art to a “standing up” kind of martial art is what you will see from India to the Chinese and further into South-East Asia. So there came an evolution, which sought different techniques and the use of different weapons.

The Kettukari

Image Source:

This turns out to be the first weapon of choice . A long stick of length longer than the body length , and is wielded in large circular movements

The Ceruvadi

Image Source:

A Ceruvadi is basically a short stick which is used to teach the students how to act in a fight with fast moving weapons . Its strikes and manoeuvres are performed as swift as possible. This eradicates the fear in the students of being in the vicinity of potential danger .

The Otta

Image Source:

It is a short curved stick . The otta signifies the downward flowing energy , which is used for attacks performed from down to up . It is majorly used to penetrate most of the Marmas or vital point of Human Body .

The Urumi

Image Source:

Urumi is an integral and a significant weapon in the fight . It is a hilt with a flexible blade of at least one and half metres . The weapon is wielded in circular movements around the body .The weapon seeks an unusual pace midway and forms a shield making it difficult for the opponent to figure out the weak points of the fighter .

The Venmezhu

Image Source:

Venmezhu or the axe is used to chop through the armour . It has the ability to break the bones easily. This turns out to be an efficient combination weapon.


Apart from all these main weapons , the applications stand out to be unique and perfect when compared with other forms of Martial Arts. The verumkai Prayogam teaches a student how , when and where to hit a marma with bare hands. This turns out to be useful under ambushing. Another tactics, which forms a series of locks and holds resembling the wrestling , are called The ‘Kettum Piditavum’.







Author: Saif Ansari

Image Source:

Pallanguli is a game played mostly in the southern part of India & Srilanka.  It’s called as a number game. It’s been played from a long time for fun. Its kind of break from the work for most of the women. Women doesn’t but Men sometimes play it for gambling purpose. Now let’s get down to the trenches of the Rule book of the game.

The base part of the game is a board mainly made up of timber. It has 14 hemispherical shaped structures over it known as cups. Each player controls seven of them. The other vital part is the seeds; that is used as a “Token”. Token which is used in Snake ladder Board Game most likely.

In this game six seeds are placed in each cup. The player starting first, picks up the seeds from any of her holes and, moving anti-clockwise, places one seed in each hole. If she reaches the end of her cups she goes on the other side of the board. When the player drops her last seed, she takes the seeds from the next cup and continues placing them in this way. If the last seed falls into a cup with an empty cup following it, the player captures the seeds in the cup. That player then continues play from the next cup containing seeds. If the last seed falls into a cup with two empty holes beyond, she captures no seeds and her turn is over. The next player continues play in the same way. If, after having a seed dropped into it, a cup contains four seeds, those become the property of the player who dropped the seed. The round is over when no seeds remain.

Once the first round is over, players take the seeds from their stores and fill as many of their holes as possible with seeds. The winner will have a surplus of seeds, which are kept in his store. The loser of the first round will be unable to fill all of his holes. These unfilled holes are marked as “rubbish holes.” In the next round play continues as before, but without the rubbish holes being included and the player who went first in the previous round going second. During the game if a player has enough seeds to fill any of his rubbish holes, they are again used during play. The game is over when a player is unable to fill any cups with six seeds at the end of a round.

So the game is pretty interesting and can be played anywhere with anyone. It represents the southern culture itself. It can be played with anyone, no age restriction is there. And the game itself made the player’s mind charged. It’s in a lot of way a new world for the people of Tamil Nadu and Srilanka besides all the famous games as in cricket or chess. It doesn’t need any experience to play. It’s just a way of sharing emotions, joy, happiness & sharing a good time at one place with their colleagues.

Nowadays As we can see that virtualization has covered most of the world by its glitz. Just like that every now and then new games whether it’s indoor or outdoor overcoming the older ones. For example T20 cricket proved its mettle in the whole world and made the different countries to take interest in it. The countries like Afghanistan, Oman, Netherlands & Ireland. They were widely known in the history of cricket coming out with great enthusiasm just because of the new concepts of cricket world. Instead of sitting for more than half of a day, the workaholic prefers giving 2 hours of full fun package. That’s why the quality testing matches as in Test Matches are lagging behind and became just a part of the memories. Though changes are going on in it but it’s not left as the favorite of most of the population.

Just like that there are lots of games to be specific indoor games are at the state of extinction. Games like Pachisi & chaturanga are the traditional games. Pachisi is from 4th century & it has a reference in Mahabharata known as “Mind Game”. Chaturanga is the oldest board game & considered to be the ancestor of modern chess.

Image Sources:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

It is commendable that the people of southern India are taking steps and making the things work to keep alive Pallanguli as the part of their lives by playing it.


Author: Seemab Alam

To the ups and downs of numerous Ghats, to the survival of the crowd and passing by the majestic cows around the streets, comes the beautiful haveli’s, temples and houses who amidst the chattering women and wandering local vendors stand with their walls being canvases to the bright coloured parrots, elephants, gods and goddesses, all adding up a supreme uniqueness and charm to the lanes of Varanasi.

These wall painting art is known as “Bhitti Chitrakala”, a folk art of Varanasi. However with the growing modernisation this folk art is finding itself difficult to breathe. The paintings showcasing mythological and colonial stories, Rajasthani and Mughal art at Jangambadi Muth, Bhonslaghat, Bageshwari Temple have already lost their gleaming look while others are on the way to extinction.

The main reason for the dying of this art is ignorance and unawareness. However the existence of this art goes back to the 16th century. Today most of the people around the houses who hold these fine wall paintings do not know about them at all. While there once was a time when the same art was valued and people took pride in expressing them on their houses. While today people find doing the same a waste of time and money.

Dr. Sudhir Keshri, assistant professor from the faculty of visual art, Banaras Hindu University (BHU) says that “The paintings in the city are now hardly visible, main reason being the witlessness of the people and no willingness to take any action against it by the authority.”

The paintings however can still be seen by a hair’s breadth around the old houses at Assi, Bageshwari Temple in Jaitpura, Laxmi Narayan Temple, Dasaswamedh Ghat, Devki Nandan Ki Haveli, Sankat Mochan Mandir and few more places.

Dr. Keshri adds, “The paintings depicts mythological stories from Durga Saptashati, Ramayan, Samudra manthan and Dashavtar on the walls of ashrams and temples. Also the elite class families used to paint their Havelis with certain designs. During marriages etc. people used to make paintings of Lord Ganesha, traditional sainiks, elephants, horses, parrots and peacocks. However today the ones who do paint their houses are all confined to the paintings of Lord Ganesha. ”

Concluding up Dr. Keshri says that “With the basic idea of considering wall paintings a waste of time and money and also with other advancements this art is hardly surviving. Topped with negligence, there rarely aren’t any artists into this profession anymore as most of them have shifted to other jobs due to no work availability.”

Around 2 years ago the students of Banaras Hindu University took the initiative to revive this art by painting the house walls of people who were willing to, for free. It was an excellent step to connect this intangible art with tangibility. Also a non-profit organisation- Jnana Pravaha, has put in efforts and collected the drawings of all the paintings that were made on temples, ashrams and other haveli’s and houses of the city as these drawings will be stored in museums.

Thus, a city like Varanasi which portrays a beautiful picture for people all around the world to know what gold this old city holds, would start losing something like Bhitti Chitrakala, it may somehow lead to start loosing up our traditions and folk art gradually.

I remember an old man talking at the ghats that “civilisation have come and gone, people have lived here and have been cremated here, days and years have passed but our benaras and it’s magic is still the same.”

I wonder if he would ever realize that things are not the same. I wonder if we, the young generations can uphold these traditions for the coming many generations to see all the gold this old city has been holding since forever.

All Picture Courtesy Belongs to Mohit Khetrapal (Student, Sunbeam School, Varanasi)