The folk painting of Madhubani will soon be seen decorating the walls of various government buildings in Bihar, the eastern Indian state where the art hails from. Traditionally done using fingers and twigs, and on mud walls, the method of applying the art has evolved with time.
About 50 government buildings in the town of Madhubani, in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, are being painted in the hues and designs of Madhubani, a style of painting originating from and synonymous to the state.
The act comes after the Madhubani railway station was donned in the paintings by local artisans recently. Over 140 artists from Madhubani village painted over 7,000 sq.ft of station premises depicting mythological characters of the Ramayana.
Madhubani, which means ‘forest of honey’, is a style of folk painting old enough to find mention in some of the ancient Indian texts like the holy Ramayana. It is also known as Mithila, for its origin is said to be the Mithila region in Bihar.
“Since the artwork done in the station area has received an overwhelming response, we want to expand the canvas for Madhubani paintings,” says Madhubani District Magistrate S K Ashok.
The idea behind painting the town in Madhubani is to give visitors a firsthand experience of how the paintings are blended with the region’s culture.
An initiative of the Eastern Central Railway (ECR), the project has employed hundreds of painters to cover walls the outer and inner walls at the railway. The project is thus being seen as a vital one for it is providing employment to the local artisans.
The quintessential subjects of Madhubani paintings include peacocks, fish and human connection with nature, which will now be spattered all across the railway station.
“Besides painting traditional themes, social issues would also be the subject matter of the artwork. We are starting with the Circuit House to attract the immediate attention of guests staying here,” says Ashok.
The painting process has already begun in the state and is expected to complete within a year.
Traditionally, the Madhubani paintings are created using fingers and twigs, and items like matchsticks have come to be used in their creation in recent times. Their various styles include Bharni, Katchni, Tantrik, Godna, and Kohbar, which would historically be painted only by women from the upper strata in the caste system, who would make them on mud walls on special occasions. The norms have now changed and the paintings can be enjoyed by anyone and in various forms. Madhubani is now found on apparel, paper, canvas, and other products, which boast of designs inspired by Hindu deities such as Krishna, Rama, Lakshmi, Shiva, Durga, Saraswati, all of whom have been painted in Madhubani since ancient times.