Alternative Medium for kids, to draw attention from Screen Entertainment.

I started My cultural interest journey, during my graduation. It was a craft education orientated institute, based in the capital of Rajasthan. My specialization was in textile designing that led to witness cultural diversity throughout in  the country.  That made me learned a lot about culture, through their aboriginal attire and craft culture preference. Those easily get influenced by history, geography, climate condition and cultural beliefs about that indigenous place. These facts intrigue my interest to not only  see their craft but also look at, life around them.

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I love travelling,though it’s not as easy to manage along with your professional 9 to 5 job but somehow I make it possible if I want it bad enough.

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The culture of India is one of the oldest and unique. The South, North and Northeast have their own distinct cultures and almost every state has carved out its own cultural niche. There is hardly any culture in the world that is as varied and unique as India. But Due to urbanization of young generation on one side where we are becoming a multicultural society, On the other hand, we are losing our distinct tradition and its cultural values.We can clearly understand as if, as many rituals and custom our grandparents followed; in the next generation my mom not able to follows them all. In fact, in heirloom, I also won’t be able to follow half of what my mom does now.  That would happen Due to lack of resources, knowledge, and interest.

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So in that way, if the majority of generation ignores their culture and its values, it can’t survive for long. So here we can trace where it is proceeding, But no!! We don’t want our unique and diverse culture to get write off. Then the question is how to protect it?

Culture in itself a very vast topic; we can classify it in 2 as tangible and intangible aspects.

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On following key points, we need to think on individual level, about our own part of contribution, to keep attached next generation with the culture. As parents, it’s our job to choose the right occasion  and right places to help them explore, inspect, create, and question everything around them.

dav
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dav
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Here I’m putting my little efforts by creating ‘ TANGIBLE MINIATURE’ artworks to promote cultural education. I believe these artworks will ENCOURAGE parent to involved them-self with kids. I choose Parents to cover the intangible aspects of these cultural artworks. That’s how you can make them understand their own roots, primal culture, and its values.Top of the thing, we are giving various topics to parents, to share their own respective part of memories. Those memories you might have collected in their life, over a certain time. It would be exactly like introducing them with your family photo album, where they start recognizing your family friends and events based on your detailed description.

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dav
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Topic of artworks I’ll choose from different distinct culture. On first series, I covered North Indian culture. For more clarity about its tangible and intangible aspects, I will cover whole article on each of them.

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while working and observing the pattern of learning for kids in past 3 years , I found that there are mainly 7 ways to make them learn anything –

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1-visual, 2- aural, 3- social, 4-solitary, 5- physical, 6- logical, 7-verbal.

Here parents, teachers, friends n society play a great role to build the character and cultural knowledge of kids.Only Parents and teachers can play the best role to connect them with their culture, as they are the closest persons to them. I strongly believe that Visual, social and verbal communication bridge will find alternative to keep kids away from screen entertainment; where they only get trapped in someone else simulation.

dav
http://www.handmadetoys.in
dav
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Knowledge about culture will open a whole new field of imagination and understanding for kids to analyze Cultural Revolution. I just want you to Give them food of thought and Let them play with their own imagination.

The festival of Jagannath Rath Yatra

‘Jagannath Puri’, Rath Yatra get organized every once in a year. Jagannath Puri is one of the four ‘DHAMs’ in the Hindu Culture. It is situated in the holy town of ‘Puri’ within the state of Orissa, on the eastern part of  India; remaining three ‘DHAMs’ are situated:

original1.2406073.2Dwarika in the west, Badrinath in the north and Rameswaram in the southern part of India and today I will share some interesting facts about ‘The Jagannath Rath Yatra’.

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The Jagannath temple has a long and rich history. On the second day of the bright fortnight of Asadha (june) month, the pilgrim town of Puri celebrates the festival of Jagannath Rath Yatra. It is the day when Gods come out on the Royal Chariots and visit the Gundicha temple.

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The embodiment’s of 3 deities, Jagannath, and his siblings Balabhadra and Subhadra, have brought out off the temple on the streets of the Puri. Devotees use their combined strength to pull the chariot to Gundicha temple using ropes.

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During this there is a ritual call “Chedaphahra”, which involves the king of Puri, Sweeping the floor before Jagannath. He sweeps all 3 chariots with the gold handled groom and sprinkle sandalwood water on the very first and last days of the Yatra.

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After 9 days, these Deities are brought back from the Gundicha temple to the main  Shree Jagannath temple. On the way back in the mid of the return journey, the 3 Deities hop on a temple called Mausi MAA temple and get the feast of ” Pada Pitha”  (a kind of baked cake).

 

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GUNDICHA  Temple

 

When we were kids, we usually used to watch the Jagannath Yatra on our television set. But we never tried to get to know why this ritual is happening?Why is a king sweeping around chariots? Why these Gods come out every year?

Let’s know these facts today!! Recently I came across some very interesting facts about Jagannath Puri. So, I thought, let’s share them with you.

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Legendary account as found in the Skanda-Purana, Brahma Purana, and other Puranas that the original image of Jagannath (a deity form of Vishnu), at the end of Treta Yuga, manifested near a banyan tree, near seashore in the form of a Blue Jewel. That blue jewel came out from Lord Krishna’s feet. After death, his body got disappeared, but this Padma (Blue Jewel) remained on earth. It was so dazzling that it could grant instant Moksha, so the God Dharma and Yama wanted to hide it in the earth, and was successful. In Dvapara Yuga Lord Jagannath was originally worshiped by a Savar king (tribal chief) named Viswavasu. On hearing about the deity, King Indradyumna sent a Brahmin priest and his brother Vidyapati to locate the deity, who was worshiped

secretly in a dense forest by Viswavasu.

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INDRADYUMNA

Vidyapati tried his best but could not locate the place. But at last, he managed to marry Viswavasu’s daughter Lalita. On multiple requests of Vidyapti, Viswavasu took his son-in-law blindfolded to a cave where Lord Neela Madhava was worshiped.

Vidyapati was very intelligent. He dropped mustard seeds on the ground on the way. The seeds germinated after a few days, which enabled him to find out the cave later on. On hearing from Vidyapati, King Indradyumna proceeded immediately to Odra Desha (Odisha) on a pilgrimage to see and worship the Deity. But the deity had disappeared. Actually, the Deity was hidden in the sand. The king was disappointed and he determined not to return without having a Darshan of the deity and observed fast unto death at Mount Nilgiri.The King Indradyumna was apprised of the message of Brahma by Narada: that the King must worship the deity with one thousand Ashwamedha yajnas.(yug).

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OVER one thousand Aswamedh yug: the divine voice of Neela Madhav instructs Indradyumna as:

“In this world, I will not give you Darshan in the form of Neela Madhava, but I will manifest in four forms: Jagannatha, Balabhadra, Subhadra, and Sudarshan chakra. Wait near the river bank, and a Daru (log of Neem tree trunk) would come afloat.I will manifest in the form of very large, fragrant, reddish log, and the signs of Sankha, Chakra, Gada, and the Padma will be seen everywhere in that form. Go there and take me out and make four deities from that log. Then you will be able to worship me”.

When this log, radiant with light, was seen floating over the sea, Narada told the king to make three idols out of it and place them in a pavilion.

brahmaIndradyumna got Visvakarma, the architect of the Gods, to build a magnificent temple to establish the idols and Vishnu himself appeared in the guise of a carpenter to make the idols on the condition that he was to be left undisturbed until he finished the work.

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But just after two weeks, the Queen became very anxious. She assumed the carpenter to be dead as no sound came from the temple. Therefore, she requested the king to open the door. Thus, they went to see Viswkarma at work at which the latter abandoned his work leaving the idols unfinished. The idols were devoid of any hands. A divine voice told Indradyumana to install them in the temple. And hence the inception of ‘The Jagannath Temple’ happened.

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Following the same pattern, every once in a while, Jagannath presides deity temple in the Puri dies and then come back to the life. Jagannath’s sister Subhadra and brother Balabhadra also undergo the same change. This tradition, known as NOBHAKODA, has been taking place from last 4000 years. It happens when an extra month gets added to the traditional calendar year.This happens to every 14 to 19 years. 2015 was one such years.

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It’s a pretty interesting phenomenon by which how Lord Jagannath’s rebirth takes place.  A Special Neem tree called Darubramh; which doesn’t have a nest, ant hills and snake lives near these and contains symbols of Vishnu. These are cut and transported to the pilgrim town of the Puri where they are carved as with the specific ritualistic guidelines. Then on a specific night the government declares a complete blackout in the Puri and the special blindfolded priest transfers something mysterious from the old image of Jagannatha to the new one. That substance is called “Bramh Pradarth” but no one really knows exactly about it. People believe that it is the same Blue Jewell which is worshiped as Neela Mahadev.

brahmaAfter the rituals, Jagannath’s old image is buried in the special ground barrier of the temple.

Although the Jagannath temple faced several invasions,  through all these adversities Puri temple has continued to thrive. Invasions happened, religious adversities came and went, but the divinity that lives in deformed and smiling deity of Puri passes from one form to another and blesses the entire mankind…

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for more detail plz visit:  www.handmadetoys.in

 

 

 

 

‘GANGOUR’ The festival of Isar and Gour.

Gangour is one of the widely celebrated festivals of Rajasthan. The festival marks the beginning of spring season in the state.It’s commenced at the mid of march with a series of celebrations that last for almost 18 days!

The word ‘Gangur’ is made up of two words,’Gana’ and ‘Gaur’. ‘Gana’ is synonymous with Lord Shiva and ‘Gaur’ stands for Gauri (Parvali), the goddess Gauri who symbolizes soubhagya (marital bliss). The Gangour festival is widely acclaimed and enthusiastically celebrated throughout the state of Rajasthan. Gangaur is a festival of the women folks; Gangaur is celebrated in the honor of Goddess Gauri, who is considered as the symbol of virtue, devotion, fertility and a perfect married woman.

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The small Idols of the Shiva and Gauri are usually made of wood or clay mud. These divine male and female entities are called ‘Isar’ and ‘Gauri’. It is mandatory for a newly- wedded girl to observe the full course of 18 days of the festival and keep fast to ensure her marriage do well,  even unmarried girls fast and eat only one meal a day.

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Now, let me take you through the procedures of celebrations!

The celebration begins almost a fortnight before the main day of the festival.Girls worship the goddess all through the fortnight before the main event day.   A group of women from the town holds a procession and carry colorful Idols of Gouri. Many people from nearby villages come to take part in the procession and roam around with them from village to villages.

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On the main day of this festival, women wake up before sunrise. Prior to the worship, newlyweds and unmarried girls leave the house with an earthen pot with a lamp lit inside, called ‘Ghudlia’, on their head to near the pond and garden, to collect fresh water and fresh flowers respectively.While coming back to the house, women chant hymn and (mangal) songs.

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After making home holy by sprinkling this water, women construct twenty-four finger-high and twenty-four finger-long square base of the holy clay in the solitary place.During this Pooja as a symbol of virtue, sixteen dots by  kuncum, sixteen dots by mehndi  and sixteen dots by kajal  are made.

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Women Decorate the Isar and Gauri with beautiful clothes and ornaments specially made for the occasion.the beautifully decorated idols look like they are brought to life by these girls and married women. Women worship ten forms of Mother Gauri: Gauri, Uma, Latika, Subhaga, Bhagmalini, Manokamna, Bhavani, Kamada, Bhog Vardavini and Ambika, with great devotion and faith.

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The idol of Isar and Gouri placed on the head of married women are taken in a procession in the afternoon, to a garden, bawakdi or well. Vidaai songs are  sung  as  Gouri departed to her husband’s house, after that they come back to home. These prayers are persisted continuously for 18 days and are concluded with the arrival of Lord Shiva to accompany his bride home.

The married women worship Gauri for welfare, health, and longevity of their husband and cheerful married life. While unmarried girls worship the goddess to get the husband of their choice.They sing Bhajans or devotional songs as part of Gangour Puja.During Gangour festival several fairs or Jatra are celebrated in Jaipur, Udaipur and many other towns in Rajasthan.

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Gauri and Isar idols are taken out for a ceremonial procession through different parts of the city. Once the religious part of the festival is over, time for cultural events starts where the Rajasthani culture is portrayed through songs, dance and several cultural activities.

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On the final day, the procession comes to an end with the Visarjan (immerse) of all the idols in the water of Gangour Ghats. The women bid farewell to Gouri and return back towards their home with teary eyes and in this way, Gangour Festival come to an end.

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‘Kaavad’ A traditional masterpiece of storytelling

Storytelling, it’s a part of Indian rich heritage. It defines our culture and our identity. Storytellers spread the important messages and lessons via their stories, with the help of voice and gestures. They use different mediums along with it like painted scrolls, boxes, dance and music performance or a combination of all to make their message even more crisp and thoughtful. Storytelling is an ART!! And Kaavads are the masterpiece of this Art!

The Kaavad is a portable wooden temple/shrine that has visual narratives on its multiple panels that are hinged together. These panels can be opened into many layers, similar to crossed thresholds of a temple, unfolding its deepest secret.The picture painted on the panels depict episodes of a particular tale or a series of epic stories .‘Kaavad Banchana’, a storytelling tradition, is still alive in Rajasthan using stories of the epics Mahabharata, Ramayana, Puranas and folk traditions are told in a magnificent and astonishing manner.

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The Kaavad-storytellers are called Kaavadiya Bhat.They bring the shrine to their patron’s house to recite their genealogy and stories from the Hindu epic.The Kaavadiyas (storytellers) and their jujmans (hereditary patrons) consider the Kaavad as a sacred shrine, which demands certain rituals to be followed, listening to genealogies, epic stories and making donations. It is believed that listening to stories purifies the soul and reserves a place for the devotee in heaven.The Kaavad tradition is approximately 400 years old and like several other oral storytelling traditions in India, its origin is located in mythology or attributed to a mysterious power.

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Kaavad is made by the Suthar (carpenter) community in Mewar, situated amidst the hills of the Aravalli ranges in Rajasthan. The specific identity of Kaavad makers comes from the place Bassi, the place where Kaavads are originated from. The Suthars of Bassi calls themselves the children of Visvakarma, the God who is considered as the chief architect of the Universe and the father of carpenter community. Out of 25 families of Suthars in Bassi only five to six families are involved in making of Kaavads.

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Kaavadiyas procure Kaavads from the Suthars of Bassi and then travel along with it from village to village to tell a lot of marvelous stories. On his arrival at a village, the storyteller holds the Kaavad against his chest, tilted slightly backward so that everybody could see the mobile Kaavad-shrine.During Kaavad bhachana, he sits crossed legged and keeps Kaavad over his lap.

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The story begins by opening the small outer doors revealing the decorations on the outer panels to arouse the curiosity by talking through the highlights of the stories depicted in the Kaavad.The storyteller then opens a ‘donations’ flap located under the decorated panels.The storyteller opens panels, one by one, telling the unveiling the several episodes of the tale.Sometimes a story could last for several days. One Kavad can contain many linked tales.The grand finale of the tales comes as the storyteller opens the final panels to reveal a ‘shrine’ –housing 3D sculptures of the hero, his wife, companions, and other characters of the story, where everyone lives happily ever after.

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Storytelling of tribal tradition….

“Jhabua” famous for doll making, locals refer to call these doll making as ‘Adivasigudiyashilp’.

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Jhabua predominantly a tribal district located in the western part of Madhya Pradesh.There you will find Bhils, Bhilalas, and Bhagoria tribal community mainly on the whole . Jhabua has all district level basic necessary infrastructure and administration like Government hospital, bus stand, district court, police headquarters and markets.

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Although Urbanization stimulates the lifestyle of these rural Adivasis but still you can find handful followers of  Adivasi cultural  in weekly Haat bazaar (market). In these haat bazaars, you will get a variety of handcrafted material products, including bamboo products, dolls, bead jewelry and other indigenous items.

In these haats,  Bhagoriya haat festival is very famous. Bhagoria is not merely one festival, but in fact, a series of fairs held one by one in various villages on their specific market days, commencing eight days before Holi. Many interesting facts I heard about this Bhagoriya hatt bazaar. Earlier, the Bhagoria haat was the place for settling old disputes; open invitations were sent to enemies for a fight in the haat. Bloody battles used to be quite common in the past; but today, police and the administration do not allow people to go to the haat armed.

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Another interesting fact is- as earlier there was no concept of matrimonial so this festival become a place, where boys and girls of marriageable age meet and after choosing partners runaway (Run Away is Bhag in Hindi, that’s why we call this community Bhagoria), As per the tradition the boy applies gulal (colored powder) on the face of the girl whom he wish to have as his wife. The girl, if willing, also applies gulal on the boy’s face. This may not happen immediately, but the boy may pursue her and succeed eventually.

 

Isn’t interesting?, if I would be one from this tribal community, I will get dressed up in my best outfits and makeover, before to set off into my groom hunting. Otherwise in urban cities, finding groom is a wild goose chase task. Well, jokes apart. So as I mentioned , you will find boys and girls in their traditions attire during these Bhagoria haat festival.

 

I visited last year this haat bazaar to compare these doll resemblance and I found these dolls truly a symbolic representation of the Bhil and Bhilala tribe and their historical ethnicity.

 

 

 

Doll making tradition in Jhabua is many generations old. These dolls represent the tribal men and women’s lifestyle in colorful traditional outfits and ornaments. They adorn the female doll with silver ornaments like Galsan Mala (bead necklace) or Chaandi ki Hansli (silver necklace), Kadas (bangles) and colorful Bhagoriya bridal wear Ghagra/Choli together with small utility items such as bamboo baskets and earthenware.

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On the other hand, the male counterparts are seen in Dhoti & Kurti with traditional Teer Kaamthi (bow arrows) – highlighting hunting and gathering as primitive occupations of this tribe. Such symbolic representation of the Bhil and Bhilala tribe, their existence and ethos, translates these little dolls into an important medium of expression of historical ethnicity.

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As raw materials they use colorful vestiges of fabrics, clay, plaster of paris, cotton, wires, beads, metal jewelry, silver paint and bamboo. The facial expressions are painted with great attention to detail. These dolls in itself tell their glorious traditional stories . Various variety of these dolls u will find at ‘Shakti Emporium’ famously known as ‘Gudiya Ghar’ owned by a private entrepreneur Mr. Subhash Gidvani who practicing it since 35 years.

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The “Ganjifa” Indian playing cards.

Why any language or culture lived or died? No matter it is the script or just dialect or part of the high-end trend. The answer is very simple-

“If it is in use it will live; if not, then it will not survive for long”.

Same thing happens to Indian ancient traditional practice too.I believe there is the only way to restore the glory of our past traditional practice to start reusing it; though u may need to contemporize it to bring them in our current lifestyle. That’s my personal opinion.

So today we going to talk about a tradition which is about to extinct “The Ganjifa Indian playing cards”

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I hardly ever show interest over playing cards. As I grew up in a middle-class north Indian state, my mom used to think, these playing cards are the beginning of gambling obsession, so better to keep kids away from this obsession she never ever let us touch playing cards.but here I got something very interesting about these playing cards while researching about handmade toys and games, I met to the treasure of Indian hand-painted playing cards, that’s called “GANJIFFA” and “GANJAPPA” cards…..as every existing thing has its story of origin, these cards also follow the same. Let’s get digging deep into.

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It is said that in India around thousand years ago in 7th-century playing cards were exist known as Kreeda Patra in Sanskrit. But According to, evidence many scholars speculate that the origin may have been in China and then it gets migrated in Central and West Asia in the 13th

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In the 16th Sawantwadi Ganjifa from Maharashtra, Navadurga Ganjifa from Orissa, Rajasthan and Gujarat Ganjifa, Kashmir Ganjifa, Nepal Ganjifa and Mysore Ganjifa.

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Bengal style of Ganjifa cards
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Sawantwadi style of Ganjifa
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Mysore style of Ganjifa cards

    Mughals miniature style Ganjifa cards

          Mysore style of Ganjifa cards

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Orissa style painted Ganjifa

These cards are still played in a few places in India even today, although they have been edged out of the mainstream by mass-produced playing French cards that we are now familiar with, since the later 19th century.

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Many of you must be thinking about that if Mughal brings it and patronized to thrive in, then how come this Hindu iconography came over these cards?

“During the Muslim period when Islam was the dominating religion

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So that’s how Ganjifa cards had a religious purpose also, People chanted the name of the deities while playing these cards, creating a spiritual atmosphere around. Mythological symbols and deities were painted intricately by the artists onto the cards, and the Ganjifa art surpassed the delicacy, richness, color, novelty and most importantly, expression.

A fun, intelligent and a brain-teasing game, Ganjifa art enjoyed much popularity in medieval times, however, its name and fame have been in decline now. With the fall of blue blood kingdoms and empires. The Ganjifa cards are hardly sold in any shops today. The Ganjifa artists have not only lost patronage, but also acknowledgment, With the rise of the digital era and the influx of modern printed cards.

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Dasavtar Orissa Ganjifa cards

Lord Jagannath and his siblings, Balabhadra and Subhadra, deities smile at me :)

jagananth_1413021999We covered many heritage toys stories from north, south and west, how could we forgot to Raghurajpur . On the mapping of traditionally rich heritage places, you will found Raghurajpur painted with bold strokes. Raghurajpur heritage craft village is in Odisha, 14 km away from Hindu pilgrimage town of Puri. Raghurajpur renowned to produce different varieties of handicrafts.

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This is the only village in India, where each family is engaged in one craft or the other such as patta paintings, palm leaf engravings, papermache toys and masks, wood carvings, wooden toys, cow dung toys and so on. Raghurajpur a place where arts and crafts have reached its stage of excellence.

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Photo credit: Abhimanyu Biriki

There are barely a hundred homes in this village. Narrow houses located on either side of narrow lanes, a temple on each lane, a sit out area in front of each house, total wooden interiors (beams, pillars, doors and the likes) and traditional decor is how Raghurajpur looks at first glance. but once u enter u will found every home is an studio and every another person is an artist or a chitrakar, creating and preserving the traditional art form of Pattachitra and other carft painted with Pattachitra. In this village you will found fascinating murals painted on the outer walls of every home.

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photo credit; Abhimanyu Biriki

The reigning theme is the portrait of the three faces that fill up every space on the walls: the triad deities of Puri – Lord Jagannath and his siblings, Balabhadra and Subhadra. Almost every art form in this village is inspired by them.

As I always talks about cultural art toys and artifacts over my blog, here also we will talk upon those features only.

Coconut n betel nut painting-  

coconut shell called  nadia are inexpensive in Orissa, given its long coastline where coconut trees grow in abundance. Decorative and utility items crafted from coconut shells work out cheaper on account of the low cost of raw material,and less labour involved in comparison to betel nut carving.

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photo credit: Abhimanyu Biriki

on these shells, where the triad deities smile at me.

Cow dung toys

From centuries, toys made from cowdung have severed as cheap substitutes to wooden and metal toys, especially for marginalized communities. The raw material is free and production cost is negligible almost. They are mostly made by womens of stone carvers community, these brightly painted toys are rustic in design. Birds, animals are popular motifs as are statuettes of lard jagannath and his companions.

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These are sold in local markets . cowdung enjoyed a great deal of value in india and is thought of as holy as well as having antiseptic property.

Papier-mâché masks

Like other handicrafts linked with Raghurajpur, this handicraft made from wet waste paper too has its origin at this heritage village. Local pattachitra artists uses natural colours & mythological figures to make this masks.

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Photo credit: Abhimanyu Biriki

It can be used as wall hanging, toys & as puja idol. Masks of demons can also be used in front of houses to ward off evil eyes.

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Photo Credit: Abhimanyu Biriki