Monday, November 02, 2015

As politicians wrangle for votes, Mithilanchal’s heritage wallows in neglect

 | TNN | Nov 2, 2015, 11.12 PM IST

Women painting a silk saree at a village in Madhubani.Women painting a silk saree at a village in Madhubani.
MADHUBANI: Politicians in Bihar have given a miss to the rich cultural heritage of the Mithilanchal region over decades, though the state has basked in the glory of Madhubani paintings, acclaimed globally.

Successive governments in Bihar have also ignored the heritage of renowned Bengali writer Bibhuti Bhushan Mukhopadhyaya, whose native house — visited by famous shehnai player Bismillah Khan and classical singer Ram Chatur Mallick in the heart of Darbhanga town — now lies in ruins. A number of Bengali films were based on Mukhopadhyaya's works and his book "Kushi Pranganer Chithi'', translated as `Kushi Pranganak Chithi' in Maithili, was also included in the curriculum of Bangla literature in schools and colleges in Bihar and West Bengal.

At village Ranti in Madhubani district, the 'jantra' painted on the wall of the drawing room of national award winner Godavari Dutt is mesmerizing. Vibrant and colourful, the painting, depicting man's connection with Nature, reflects the rich culture of the region which had grabbed global attention decades ago.

"It took me several months to make this painting," said the octogenarian, who now, due to her failing health, finds it difficult to walk. Dutt has travelled with her paintings to several countries, including France and Japan. "This painting is our cultural heritage and is done in every household in this village and Jeetwarpur, where many famed painters, including Padma Shri Sundari Devi, have lived.

She rued that though the paintings had done very well in the national and international markets, painters couldn't reap benefits as the government failed to streamline their marketing. "Middlemen are minting money by selling our work nationally and internationally while we are paid a pittance for our hard work," she said, adding the government should at least fix rates for sale of the paintings.