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    Take A Road Trip To This Village Full Of Award-Winning Artists Near Kolkata

    Editors posted on 30 August

    Shortcut

    Forget stuffy art galleries with even stuffier artists. Head to Naya, a village of award-winning artists who have jet-set around the world with their paintings. And they have an annual festival in November which is a must-attend!

    What Makes It Awesome

    Naya is a village of patachitrakars – folk artists of Bengal. They do traditional, painted narratives on scrolls which are unrolled, frame by frame, while the artist sings out the tale.  You will be stunned by the flashes of bright colour on mud walls – two tigers in luminescent yellow and vivid red tongues sticking out, a brown crocodile swallowing a green tortoise, sunny flowers, owls with gigantic eyes, birds, and planes. It’s like you are in a giant public art space.

    The people here have been artists for generations. There are 250 patachitra painters living in Naya. You’ll see almost everyone with their head down, busy painting something –  a scroll, a saree {because patachitra has become quite popular in lifestyle stores in the city}, or jewelry. Even the children here know how to wield a brush.

    Many chitrakars from this area have been part of international projects. For instance, Manu Chitrakar, who has done a graphic novel about the life of Martin Luther King Jr –  I See The Promised Land – in collaboration with African-American writer and blues singer Arthur Flowers. Chitrakars like Manu straddle the two faiths of Hinduism and Islam, practicing customs from each. Some have syncretic names and Hindu and Muslim customs are often blended.

    Go during their annual fest – Pot Maya – three days of art, music and dance that celebrates the success of the chitrakars in reviving their heritage of patachitra art. You can pick up painted clothes (sarees, stoles, T-shirts etc) and décor items like lampshades, curtains, wall hangings.

    What Could Be Better

    If you don't have a car, you may find the journey to the village a bit of a hassle. We went via a local train and then a rickety bus. But hey, it's part of the adventure!

    Pro Tip

    Take along a camera with good video capabilities. Record the chitrakars as they sing out the stories. You can drive down or take a local train. It’s a three to four hour drive from Kolkata. Take to road to Debra along NH6, then turn left to Balichak, and drive towards Mundamari crossing. If you are taking a local train from Howrah, take one that stops at Balichak.

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    Naya

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      Naya, West Bengal

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