About a three hour drive from Kolkata, the quaint Naya Village is every art aficinados paradise. The village is home to the traditional Bengali painters called patuas or chitrakars who are known for their specialised narrative scroll paintings known as patachitra.
These paintings depict a diverse repertoire of subjects: from mythological stories of Mahabharata and Ramayana to tribal folklore as well as social messages and contemporary happenings. While in the earlier times, the patuas wandered from village to village, singing, performing and educating the masses all at once; today, the art-form has percolated down to being just a painting.
These colourful paintings come in different shapes and sizes. From rolled paintings to square and rectangle shaped ones, they’re a delight to the viewer’s eyes. These paintings are as sustainable as they can get; they’re done on multiple sheets of poster papers stitched together to form the canvas. Plant-based colours mixed in coconut shells are used to bring them to life, and so as to give longevity to the painting, a thin cotton cloth is glued to the back of the painting.
In fact, when you walk into Naya Village, you’re bound to feel like having walked straight into an art gallery. The walls of the painters’ houses too are done up in striking colours, all telling a story. Even painted wooden souvenirs such as vases and decorative hangings are seen strewn around the porch of their houses or the shops.
If you’re planning a visit to the village, time it with the three-day festival named Pot Maya held every November. That’s when workshops are conducted for you to learn the art-form and stunning artwork are on display for sale. All that is accompanied by soulful musical performances by eminent artists from all over the country. Staying at the home-stays run by patuas is highly recommended if you wish to spend a few days in the village.