Daricha Foundation

Focus: Arts and Culture

FOLK and tribal art in India have been marginalised along with those who practise them. By documenting and disseminating knowledge about this rich heritage, Daricha hope to reignite interest in these art forms.

And they have begun this mammoth task in West Bengal where the society is founded.

For example, Santal women who have for generations painted the outside walls of their mud huts with exquisite designs during the annual harvest festival of Sohrai, are devoting less time to an occupation that earns them nothing - opting instead to work as daily labour.

Urbanisation, proximity to mainstream society and with the necessary emphasis on girls’ education, this tribal tradition is finding fewer takers and being devalued as a cultural practice.

To prevent its extinction, Daricha, in collaboration with the Anthropological Survey of India, have recently documented Sohrai wall art in the form of a film. During its shooting, 32-year-old Kalpona Handsa of Joradih village in Purulia district, however, told Daricha: “Women truly committed to their wall art will find the time irrespective of their other commitments in their homes and on their fields.”

But the art form cannot survive on Kalpona's optimism alone without the kind of intervention Daricha is taking. And, that it is paying off became evident when they recently revisited the villages where the documentary was shot to show the women the video. It instilled a renewed sense of pride in the artists who vowed to make their walls look even better next year!

Daricha also uses rural art forms as a means to draw attention to other important issues. In January 2017, for instance, they partnered with micro-finance institution Arohan to raise awareness on women's health using patachitras (painted narrative scrolls) as a tool.

Typically, itinerant artists went from village to village singing the narrative as they unfurled the story illustrated on their scrolls. So they invited Jharna Chitrakar, 60, a Patua artist from the Purba Medinipur district, and her daughter, to compose, paint and sing from patachitras on women’s health at health camps in villages round the state.

This past year, over 50 folk and tribal artists in West Bengal have had the opportunity to showcase or sell their work with the help of Daricha. With your support, Daricha can reach out to more artists around the country and revive India’s rich folk and tribal artistic heritage.

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About Daricha Foundation

Traditional folk and tribal painters are fast embracing other professions for their livelihood and their art is slowly dying. Folk and tribal art/painting/sculptures and their undeniable influences stand under a death threat.

Arts of the Earth Gallery, New Delhi

I lived in West Bengal for many years in the 1970s and 1980s and your site makes me long for the places and people. I really miss it.

Edward Yazijian, Lecturer in Asian Studies, Furman University, USA

Compliments for the professional production, particularly for giving local women more than just credit (for their formidable skills and dedication) but also to express their concerns (economic and time constraints imposed by modern society).

Ludwig Pesch, Secretary & Website Administrator, The Tribal Cultural Heritage in India Foundation in Noordwijk, Netherlands

I found the Daricha website to be the most comprehensive, well written and well researched repository of the tribal, rural and traditional cultural artifacts of West Bengal.

Sarbari Chowdhury, documentary film maker, USA