The Bards Of Bengal

by Sayantan

It was a year ago, a similar cold pleasant winter morning. The thick fog was lingering above the pond in front of our house. Sipping on the hot tea, I jokingly suggested to my wife, “let’s go for a long drive”. Maybe there was something in the tea or the weather, my wife immediately agreed to my proposal (this rarely happens).

So, while my wife was busy getting ready; I ransacked my brain to find every possible place that we could go.

After much deliberation, we both agreed to visit the village Naya; a small village near Sabang. I had read about it in a blog/article in Telegraph, a few days back. The drive along the Bombay road till Debra was smooth; after which you have to take a left turn towards Sabang. With the Google maps leading us the way, we went to the wrong Naya village. Actually the village of interest is on the left side of the road; just before where the Google map shows. We asked a few villagers, and ultimately reached the village at noon.

The Bards of Bengal

It’s a small village,with 5-6 beautifully decorated huts. The village was mostly empty; with most of the people busy in the fields or having gone to far off cities to sell the paintings. A few were having their lunch. The courtyards were full of harvested paddy; with hens, ducks and small goats roaming about. At first we felt a bit awkward; but the villagers welcomed us in their homes.

The central house; where a annual fair is conducted every year; was a residence cum showroom and museum; with some artifacts from far fetched places like African tribal mask; Egyptian obelisk; South American tribal art piece; along with lots of Pot paintings (painting on parched paper) collected from different areas of India. An entire room is dedicated to Naksi Katha (embroidered Quilt). The walls of the houses are decorated with paintings. In fact we had the privilege of listening to one of story of Krishna Radha; accompanied by the showing of Pot chitra; (Ah, those nostalgic days of our childhood).

bards of bengal

You can see these pot chitra for sale in every art fair of Bengal; but what I felt that these people are more comfortable here than in the Eco park maidan. A little govt help might help in tourism and better preservation of this dying art. We left with hands full and pockets empty and a lot of sweet memories.

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