Artistes representing old traditions going unnoticed at National Crafts Mela

Puppet show was something which started when kings ruled in the country.

Written by Ifrah Mufti | Chandigrah | Published: December 3, 2013 5:21:57 am

Amidst the stalls showcasing their handlooms,handicrafts,furniture,jewellery,flowers,groups from Western India performing their respective dance forms,chefs from seven different regions serving various dishes,some artistes at the National Crafts Mela — Kalagram — sit unnoticed,complaining that old traditions,which many used to enjoy earlier,have died.

Among them are puppet show artistes from Rajasthan,who have been in the profession for 50 years; traditional painters from Gujarat,three generations of whom have been in the profession,and another artiste from a village in Rajasthan who runs a bioscope,which used to be famous in the days when there was no medium of entertainment.

Though the puppet shows,looking into the bioscope,getting kuccha houses painted and listening to the folk or classical music were all part of old traditions,these artistes who have been invited at the fifth edition of the National Crafts Mela still hope they can bring these traditions to life by following the new trends.

Babalal Gujia,who has put up a puppet show stall at Kalagram said,“It’s been four days and just two families have approached us,asking to present the show. Puppet show was something which started when kings ruled in the country. My great-grandfather started this profession in our family. He made these puppets by himself and wrote stories while presenting the show. Now,nobody shows interest to listen to those ‘Maharaja’ stories,which is why we have started writing about the current and relevant topics including,‘save girl child’,‘Malaria’,‘AIDS’,‘Education’,‘Marriage’ etc. Despite this,there are very few customers left.”

A Pithora painting artist from Gujarat,Ramsingh’s is the third generation that has been painting several houses all around the country. Ramsingh said,“In Gujarat,people used to consider these painting as God and got their walls painted with this. These paintings represent a healthy and successful life of a person,with cattle,farms etc. But now this tradition has been confined only in the tribal areas; very few among urban people get these paintings done.”

There are other painters as well,from Maharashtra and Karnataka,with their paintings called as ‘Warli’ and ‘Surupura’ painting respectively. Warli painting presents life of a person,animal or a thing and it takes around 6-7 hours,while the Surpura painting,which is basically miniature painting,takes atleast 10 days to complete.

Also,there is a group from Kashmir which plays ‘Sazina’ in a Kashmiri tone on their instruments. The group is a state awardee and has been playing the same for 40 years. One of the artistes,Gul Ahmed said,“The traditions which we have been protecting for so long cannot die so soon; we want to keep up the traditions till our very last.”

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