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Both Hindu and Muslim: the unique tale of Bengal's patua chitrakars

Sabrangindia 17 Sep 2019

For generations, The 'Patua Chitrakars' have painted narratives from Hindu mythology as well as Sufi traditions. Their sing-song poems depict  tales from the Ramayana and Mahabharata among other folklore , that once made them celebrated performing artists across the villages of Bengal. 


 

Traditionally meandering performers, they travel from one village to another performing stories from their hand-painted scrolls transcending religions while living under dual names that would enable them to be accepted in the holy rituals of both Hindu and Muslim communities. 
 
Today, the Patuas are only found around the districts of Midnapur and Birbhum of West Bengal. And while they fear that the 'Haadis' wouldn't allow them to paint Gods and Goddesses in human form, it is the only form of art and living they know the best. And thus, they continue living a less than humble life amidst rising communal tension and propaganda, and proves to be one of those few living traditionalists that derives their traditions from Hindu-Muslim syncretism. 

Both Hindu and Muslim: the unique tale of Bengal's patua chitrakars

For generations, The 'Patua Chitrakars' have painted narratives from Hindu mythology as well as Sufi traditions. Their sing-song poems depict  tales from the Ramayana and Mahabharata among other folklore , that once made them celebrated performing artists across the villages of Bengal. 


 

Traditionally meandering performers, they travel from one village to another performing stories from their hand-painted scrolls transcending religions while living under dual names that would enable them to be accepted in the holy rituals of both Hindu and Muslim communities. 
 
Today, the Patuas are only found around the districts of Midnapur and Birbhum of West Bengal. And while they fear that the 'Haadis' wouldn't allow them to paint Gods and Goddesses in human form, it is the only form of art and living they know the best. And thus, they continue living a less than humble life amidst rising communal tension and propaganda, and proves to be one of those few living traditionalists that derives their traditions from Hindu-Muslim syncretism. 

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