The cultural collage of Mithila Paintings has transformed one of the dirtiest railway stations of the country, Madhubani, into the second cleanest one. Cultural longings, people's participation and traversing the indigeneity could be the next stepping stone in the nationwide cleanliness drive.
Recently, I was on a visit to Madhubani District for some work. After alighted the train on the Madhubani railway station, I got amused to see the walls of the station. The walls were well decorated with serene paintings and were flaunting their aesthetics. As a resident of the State, I was quick to identify the painting; it was none other than the world-famous Mithila painting. My curiosity led me to ask a nearby commuter, “When did it happen?”, he replied, “A few months back”.
Finally, the Madhubani Railway station got a makeover. One of the oldest railway stations in India is now attracting commuters after hundreds of local Mithila artists decorated the walls of the station and nearby areas with the beautiful Mithila paintings.
Once considered among the dirtiest railway stations in the country, Madhubani railway station has now been transformed into one of its cleanest with Mithila paintings adorning its wall. The initiative was undertaken as a Swachh Bharat Mission.
Station Master of Madhubani, Jagdamba Prasad informed Organiser that the project started on October 2 last year with the aim to prettify and clean the station and also to highlight & promote the locals’ skill.
“The brainchild of Divisional Railway Manager Samastipur RK Jain and Gannath Jha, ADDM bears the fruit. With the little help of railway administration to the artists like providing them with food, colours, and brushes for painting, the artists have really transformed the Madhubani station. Even the Railway Ministry has applauded this work of the artists and local railway administration”, Prasad added.
It is unsurprising that such an experiment of jan-bhagidari has commenced in Bihar for cleanliness. Last year when PM Narendra Modi gave the call of ‘Swachhagraha’ to commemorate the centenary of the ‘Champaran Satyagraha’, Bihar had to lead the way, once again!
More than 200 artists, 80 percent of them women, volunteered to paint the station free of cost. The total wall area of Madhubani railway station of more than 14,000 sq ft has been fully painted with various themes under traditional Mithila painting styleThe local artists have done it free of cost as 'Shramdaan' (free labor) in an attempt to promote the traditional painting by the local artists. “More than 200 local artists volunteered over a period of two months to paint over 14,000 square feet, the total wall area of the Madhubani railway station has been fully decorated with the innumerable themes of famous and traditional Mithila style”, Jagdamba Prasad enthusiastically said.
“As I am almost a daily commuter, I have seen how the artists have worked day and night to embellish this station. Noticeable part is that around eighty percent of the artists are women. Now the passengers coming here are blessed with the ancient art-culture of Mithila” said Mamta Jha.
At the station, one would find scenes from Ramayana, especially Maithili Ramayana that is more focused on Sita Mata as she is considered the Daughter of Mithila. The paintings of the marriage of Sri Ram and things related to Sita Mata is a major attraction there. Others include Sri Krishna killing the Raakshashi Putna, scenes from Vishnu Purana, Mahabharata and many popular festivals like Chhat Puja and everyday rural and social life of the region. Painters have also carried some paintings on Constitution and Bharat Mata. One can find some paintings giving cleanliness message. Even artists have painted trees and walls of the district with various religious stories and awareness message.
Vinita Jha, one of the artists informed Organiser that “The Mithila painting originated in a small village known as Maithili in Bihar. Initially, our ancestors drew paintings on freshly plastered mud walls of their home as an illustration of their thoughts by fingers. With passing time paintings are drawn on festivals and special events like marriages. The themes of Mithila paintings are based on Hindu Gods and Goddesses. You can see many paintings on the station based on the Ramayana.”
Another Feather in the Cap
A student on the station, Nityanand Jha, told Organiser that we are happy that our station stood second among the cleanest stations in India. It’s really a proud feeling to be a “Mithilawaasi”. In the past, PM Modi had also presented a shawl crafted with Mithila painting to the Lord Mayor of Hannover, Stefan Schostok.
Informing the weekly he said, “The world record for the largest painting is about 46oo square feet. We will be the happiest when artwork on Madhubani station gets listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the paintings on the wall of Madhubani station have covered an area of more than 14000 square feet. In my knowledge, nowhere in the world have people created artworks over such a large area”.
A Movement in the Making
Madhubani railway station is not the first railway station of the country to be decorated by the beauty of Mithila paintings. Samastipur railway station of Bihar also has Mithila paintings elaborated on its walls. There are also plans to carry out similar artworks in nearby Bihar stations and outside the state. The administration of Anand Vihar Station, Delhi approached the authorities to carry such initiative at the station.