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Corona Patachitra – How Bengal is using art to spread awareness on COVID-19

23 May, 2020 02:05:51
Corona Patachitra – How Bengal is using art to spread awareness on COVID-19

Bengal has always said it with art. Even amidst the fear of Corona pandemic, role of Bengal’s patachitra is now being used to create awareness and pass important messages to the rural population. And leading from the front is a Patachitra on the pandemic by veteran artist Swarna Chitrakar from Paschim Medinipur in West Bengal. Patachitra is a unique folk art and a perfect amalgamation of aural and visual storytelling. Bengal’s Patachitra is known for centuries for the long scrolls depicting a story, where several frames are painted to narrate different parts of the tale with vivid imageries, explained through a catchy tune. 

Swarna Chitrakar has painted a detailed narrative with figures donning not just masks but even PPE suits to capture the mayhem and sadness caused by the virus outbreak. A big monster in red depicts the virus. The artist painted an elaborate seven-frame scroll and composed a song with all relevant information. From highlighting how the virus may have originated in China to the sufferings across the globe, this award-winning artist talks about a ‘universal pain.’ And that’s not all. In her vibrant and informative artwork, she talks about different precautionary measures along with the selfless work and sacrifices by medical professionals.

It took about 15 days to write the lyrics, compose the song and paint the scroll. She got help from her husband, who prepared all the colours and natural dyes, extracted from flowers and plants. Pingla is famous for its Patachitra and Pater Gaan — unique cultural traditions of Bengal and is home to more than 250 Patachitra artists. The artist said in a recent interview that the scale of the pandemic made it hard to ignore. In the past also Patuas of Bengal have painted and composed songs on other diseases like Tuberculosis, HIV-Aids. However, despite all the gloom, Patuas of Bengal are optimistic and feel their art form will come to help of several people during these trying times. 

Story Tag:
  • Corona Virus

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