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Patuas celebrate the 7th edition of their annual festival - POT Maya


Patachitra is an age old tradition of storytelling in eastern India. In this unique art form where oral tradition meets the visual structures of a narrative, the bard presents the story with pictures and simultaneously narrates a song called Pater Gaan. The word Pata is derived from the Sanskrit and Pali word Patta, which means “cloth".Chitra means “picture". The painter community is called PatuaAll of them bear the last name Chitrakarmeaning painter. The Patuas use colors extracted from various trees, leaves, fruits, flowers, seeds and rocks. Traditionally, the paintings were on mythological stories. Nowadays, Patuas paint scrolls on contemporary social issues ranging from violence against women to climate change.


There are 60 families of Patuas at Naya village in Paschim Medinipore district of the state of West Bengal where this storytelling tradition is still practiced. POT Maya is the annual festival of the Patuas of Naya, Pingla. 2016 marked the 7th edition of their festival organized from November 11-13. 


Over the last couple of years the Patuas have observed a unique change in the behavior of local people who are presently showing interest and buying Patachitra which earlier would only be restricted to the foreigners and urban people and they credit this to their festival. The community's progress is recognizable and they want to work more to ensure the art tradition is safeguarded in totality and feel the urgency to transmit not just the product making skills but also the singing skills and the stories.


The festival visitors, learnt about the festival from different blogs. Apart from enjoying the colorful Patachitra scrolls and songs depicting different stories, the visitors also appreciated the cultural performances put up during the festival. The newly developed Folk Art Centre with captivating display of the community art also screens documentaries on the art form. The centre has lodging facilities for visitors.


This year there was a collaborative musical presentation by Duo Fatale, two musicians from Switzerland traveling across West Bengal. The Swiss musicians loved the vibrancy of the village and felt the art is very rich and sets an example for the world. 


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