If you too come from a convent school like mine, you can feel the presence of God in your life. At my school, we are always guided to search for the opportunities that He places in our lives and step into them willingly the moment we recognise them.
So, here I am with another God sent opportunity to visit Naya.
Naya is a small artistic village in Pingla which lies in the Mednipur district of West Bengal. It can be easily reached from Kolkata in a couple of hours in your own conveyance or in a little more time in the public transport.
Weather in Kolkata had been acting strange in December this year. Though it had already delivered its share of rain in the monsoon, we were still experiencing rain showers every now and then. Braving the weather, we started on a Sunday morning On on the NH6 highway to reach Debra. From Debra we took a left to reach the Balichak (sub-district of Mednipur) railway crossing.
From Balichak, Naya village of Pingla was a smooth drive away. The distance of eight kilometres from there could be easily covered in twenty minutes. Unlike few contents on Google, roads are well maintained and a delight to drive on.
After a few weeks of research and study, we were finally here in the remote village of Naya where art runs in the blood of each villager.
These talented artists have successfully passed their skills to their successors, just like one of them was demonstrating it to me. Here he showed me how to make natural colours from flowers and leaves which are available in abundance to us. These natural colours when used for painting adhere to the surface and never comes off unlike artificial fabric colours which get washed away even if they are slightly mishandled.
The pictures above are of Shyamsundar Chitrakaar and family. These folk artists are painters, story-tellers and singers but they truly specialise in painting scrolls. Since the use of internet is now a common thing in every household, their art is reviving again. Art lovers from India and all over the world are coming to this remote village to see and learn their talent. Frank J. Korom, a professor at Boston University and a research associate at the museum of folk art has written a book called Village Of Painters on the people of Naya.
Many of these potuas have already been to all over the world to exhibit their art. In their endeavour, Banglanatak.com, a social enterprise is helping them flourish. Please visit them at http://www.banglanatak.com to see how they have been using culture as a tool to bring change in the society. After a short conversation with the potuas, we got to know that every year some of them are taken abroad to countries like Norway, USA, Scotland, Paris, Japan, Taiwan etc to showcase their art at events organised by banglanatak which also bears their travelling and lodging expense. Its a huge support coming their way and I hope that more organisations and people come forward to help them.
The village has its own museum and folk art centre. The above pictures are from the Patachitra museum in Naya which exhibits the bartered objects collected all over India by a potua in exchange of his patachitras.
Some of their more appealing works !
In November, there is a three day festival held in this village called Pot Maya. This annual patachitra festival brings alive colours, stories and art and celebrates the success of local artists. This festival is also aired by popular tv channel Doordarshan and covered by Banglanatak.com.
With my writing I intend to bring more love and business to them. I being too young now to help them in any other way I feel its the least I could do for them. If you happen to visit them after reading this post you will be welcomed by the ‘potuas’ with open arms and you shall return spellbound with their talent and art.