Indian Railways take folk art to places

Train coaches decorated with traditional Mithila art work


September 8, 2018

/ By / New Delhi

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Picture courtesy - Aayush Sharma

Picture courtesy – Aayush Sharma

As Bihar Sampark Kranti Express arrived in New Delhi last week, each of its nine coaches donned a new look. Instead of the dark blue coaches, the train arrived wrapped-around in Bihar’s traditional Mithila art work.

India’s living traditions of folk and indigenous art can be seen everywhere in the country – from wall art to even vehicles like trucks and auto rickshaws – reminding people of its rich cultural heritage. Expanding this diversity in presentation of Indian art, one of the oldest trains in the country, Sampark Kranti Express has also become a travelling show for this unique art as its coaches are freshly pained with Madhubani art.

Madhubani is a folk art from the Mithila region in Bihar (east India) and is known for using only fingers, twigs, nib-pens, brushes and matchsticks for painting. The motifs for this art are principally various animals and plants. The initiative of painting Mithila art on the train is aimed at promoting the heritage and to take it across the nation through the vast network of the Indian Railways. As many as 45 artisans, of which 43 were local women artists, worked for over a month to paint the coaches.

Picture courtesy - Aayush Sharma

Picture courtesy – Aayush Sharma

Railway authorities say that besides promoting traditional art, this will also provide a platform for local artists to showcase their talent and create awareness amongst travellers.

Traditionally, the colours used for Madhubani paintings are derived from plants and artists also use other natural pigments to paint. The colours schemes used are often bright and very visually appealing.

Not only its trains, but the Indian Railways is also painting its railway stations with Madhubani art. As you cross the threshold of several railway stations in Bihar, you will see walls painted in Mithila art with scenes from Hindu scriptures like the Ramayana and Mahabharata, especially those related to Sita (consort of Hindu God Lord Ram) as she was born in Mithila. Other paintings include depiction of rituals of popular festivals like the Chhat Puja, rural and social life in the area and folk dance.

Taking a cue from these stations, many other railway stations in the country have also been adorned with traditional paintings. For instance, the Raja Ki Mandi station near Agra in Uttar Pradesh (north India) is decorated with similar paintings depicting Lord Ram and Sita’s wedding and the Titwala station near Mumbai in Maharashtra (west India) is decorated by traditional art by local artists.

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