Indian students may learn about contemporary art, but how often are they exposed to traditional art forms? On Monday, July 24, Rooftop collaborated with R.N. Podar School, Santacruz West, Mumbai, to organise a fun-filled workshop on the sacred textile art of Mata ni Pachedi. It was held in two batches to ensure that each student was given individual attention. This workshop was designed as an intuitive introduction to Mata ni Pachedi and the world of traditional Indian art forms. Participants of all ages enrolled in the workshop, ranging from students in the fifth grade up to the eleventh.
About The Artists
After a quick introduction by Rooftop Founder and CEO Kartik Gaggar the instructors of the workshop were introduced. Senior artists Kiran Chitara, Kirit Chitara, and Om Kiran Chitara were tasked with teaching the students the sacred art of Mata ni Pachedi. The Chitara Family of Ahmedabad has been practising this traditional art form for seven generations.
Kiran’s father, Bhulabhai Chunilala Chitara, was the first artist to win a National Award for Mata ni Pachedi and for the significant contribution he made towards its conservation. Kiran himself was awarded a National Award in 2005. The Chitara family creates Mata ni Pachedi paintings for religious and decorative purposes while maintaining the art form’s traditional styles and techniques.
Rooftop has been working with the Chitara brothers (including artist Chandrakant Chitara who wasn’t present during the workshop due to ill health). Rooftop has created multilingual content on Mata ni Pachedi art form, allowing the user to learn and explore the art in detail.
The Workshop Begins!
The workshop began with much excitement and anticipation as students were divided into two batches, each exploring a different theme in Mata ni Pachedi. In the first batch, they delved into the mesmerizing world of the deer motif, which traces its roots back to the epic Ramayana. The second badge embarked on a creative journey with the musician(Dholira) motif, believed to please the Goddess through melodious tunes.
Some students fearlessly created their masterpieces from scratch, while others chose to trace the intricate motifs with precision. The artists and Rooftop team members were there at every step, encouraging the young learners to infuse their creativity into the artwork. As the workshop progressed, the students’ confidence soared, and their expressions of art came alive with a sense of pride and joy.
The themes, intertwined with stories of mythology and devotion, added an extra layer of depth to the students’ artistic endeavours. Through Mata ni Pachedi, they not only embraced the beauty of the traditional art form but also learned valuable lessons about Indian culture and heritage.
Journey Through The Creative Process
The participants were exposed to various traditional motifs such as flowers, leaves, birds, butterflies, trees, the sun, the moon, etc., and taught how to incorporate them into artwork. Through this activity, the students unleashed their creative potential by filling the background with vines, lotus flowers, birds, curtains, floral wreaths, and other decorative elements.
The participants then moved on to the final stage, painting. They could not hide their surprise when they were instructed to paint only the background. Keeping the foreground plain and allowing the white of the paper to show through seemed like a new concept to them! A speciality of this 700-year-old art form: In all Mata ni Pachedi paintings, the background is painted almost completely. The off-white color of the cotton canvas peeks through only through the central characters and motifs.
Staying True To Tradition
Students used only black, white, and red—the three colors that were traditionally used in this art form. A few decided to experiment by adding additional colors to small parts of the painting. The artists and Rooftop team members continued to supervise and guide them by answering queries and instructing them based on their work. Kirit Chitara shed light on some of the techniques that are used in the process of these paintings. Students were encouraged to be as creative as possible while avoiding self-doubt and insecurity.
Behind The Mother Goddess
Throughout the workshop, Kartik kept the participants entertained by sharing facts about the art form and its interesting history. Like, did you know that Mata ni Pachedi was started by the Vaghari Community in Gujarat as an innovative means of worship? He also explained the history of the Vagharis and how they were not allowed to enter temples due to the caste discrimination prevalent in those times. And thus, the intricate art of Mata ni Pachedi was born as a statement as well as a homage to the mother goddesses.
Mata ni Pachedi is painted on cotton cloth. The black ink for the sketch process (also known as Kalamkari) is extracted from water that is filled with iron objects and kept aside for a month. The cloth is soaked to remove any starch, and then the artists get to work, directly painting motifs and sacred imagery onto the cloth using bamboo sticks and brushes. These paintings served as a temporary shrine for nomadic communities that could not build a permanent temple. Mata ni Pachedi tapestries use motifs to tell a story, usually of mythological origin.
Introducing The Future Generation To Ancient Art Forms
The participants were briefed about Rooftop and the work we do for the protection of traditional art forms. Kartik spoke about representing the Rooftop app at a virtual interaction organized by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry’s Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT). The Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi instructed Rooftop’s founder to spread awareness about folk and traditional art forms by conducting activities and workshops in schools, colleges, and educational institutions.
This workshop is part of several such endeavors to spread awareness and educate the next generation about the importance of traditional Indian art forms. Rooftop conducts Maestro courses on several traditional art forms. The content is shot with traditional artists who practice the same techniques that were followed in ancient Indian times. The Mata ni Pachedi course offers a flexible online learning schedule and comes with a complementary art kit.
An Enjoyable Experience Filled With Art And Memories
Participants were given a sneak peek at exclusive Mata ni Pachedi maestro course content, which is available in both Hindi and English to ensure that it is accessible to all. They were shown the traditional process of Mata ni Pachedi, including the pre-treatment process, inking in the black outlines, painting the background, and how the cloth is treated to make the colors permanent and more vibrant.
The Chitara brothers traveled all the way from Ahmedabad, bringing with them several tapestries of varying length and intricacy. Students were encouraged to draw inspiration from the completed Mata ni Pachedi paintings on display while painting their own pieces. Each piece by the Chitara family is hand-painted or hand-block-printed using natural colors. Both participants and the teaching faculty marveled at the painstakingly perfected artwork.
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List of participants in Batch 1 (8 AM to 9:30 AM)
Aadya Bhalekar, Aahana Aryal, Aarush Dhiraj Ramteke, Agam Jain, Akshara Saboo, Akshita Singh, Anikka Menon, Anirudh Jhunjhunwala, S Arunima, Anuha Mudlapur, Anvesha Bajaj, Asaveru Chandrasekhar, Avani Rathi, Ayushi Anand, Dhyani Shah, Kanishka Khandelwal, Kiara Lisa Mascarenhas, Krshna chheda, Kshitija Singh, Mahi Adhiya, Mandira Ghosh, Manthan Ghadi, Manvi Pandey, Minnasri Telikicherla, Navya Patidar, Neil Upadhyay, Nyneishia Patra, Ohanna saini, Pahal Nishar, Pradhyumna Verma, Pranjali Prashant, Prateek Sinha, Pratichi Ghosh, Prerna Laad, Riyana Bhattacharya, Samit Bhardwaj, Samriddhi Chamoli, Sanjit Patel, Saumya Sachin Shah, Shravani Kadam, Simran rai, Sirjan Kaur Randhawa, Sreeja Ganguli, Tanisha Vishal Verma, Tanishi Shandilya, Tarini nambiar, V S A Srikruti, Vandit Jain, Vedant Yedery, Veer sampat, Yash Chaudhari, Yashash Shrivastava, Yuvraj Suri.
List of participants in Batch 2 (9:30 AM to 11 AM)
Aadit Maskara, Amey Prashant Patil,Anay Nihar Patil, Anisha Pandit, Archit J Yadav, Arunima Verma, Ayana kesar, Barnali Maharana, Bhakti Tushar Rathod, Dhruvie Mathur, Diya Makwana, Goonj Chandrakant Ghatol, Hanshika Nigam, Heyrumb Ashiwal Dabas, Ishana Gangopadhyay, Jainik Gada, Janki Jatankumar Shah, Janvi Jain, Rushda Mistry, Sanskriti Aggarwal, Shaastrika Kemdi, Swastika Choudhary, Vedant Malik, Viha M Poojary, Vini Gopani, Aarini Jain, Rishi Morra, Shalvi Kulkarni, Kush Ankit Jain, Angel Pala, Suhana Chowdhary, Anika Manglik, Aanika Ayare, Danya C Nag, Aarna Aadhia, Jayden Rodrigues, Aviral Agarwal, Nidhi Singh Shekhawat, Aarna Gattani, Vihan Goneka, Apoorva Madhukar, Saumya Jacob, Maitri Krishna, Nakshatra Ahirat, Jesscia Morris, Megha Jain, Krishna Dhruv, Aaskha Shah, Advika Nayak, Sejal Roy, Naavya Maheshwari, Prisha Joshi, Agrima Pandey, Aarya Chanduk
By Melissa D’Mello