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.