Suthar Tisan: The Mithila way
         Date: 29-May-2018

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.


 
Madhubani railway Station 
 
Whenever the name of Bihar’s Madhubani District comes up, the lyrical texture of Maithili and the Mithila painting rings in the mind.

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.


 
Artist filling colors to the painting
 
 
Motivation of Transformation

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.


Swachhta and Jan-Bhagidari

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!


Madhuvani

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.

Mamata Jha, a commuter, and housewife informed the weekly, “Now the new beautiful and clean look of station charms the commuters. Sometimes I can’t believe on my eyes that, this is the same Madhubani station where walls were found painted with paan and guthka stains. The people used to throw garbage on platforms. But now everything is changed because of Modi’s Swachhta Abhiyaan and common man’s participation. People’s participation is always an important factor for the success of any initiative and Madhubani station is the biggest example of it. The mindset of commuters has also changed. People are now more conscious and supporting the railway administration in keeping the premises clean”.

“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.


Stairs decorated with the Mithila painting

Another commuter, Bablu Jha shared his opinion, “I belong to this land and for the last 40 years, I have been visiting this station on regular basis for my work as I am a businessman. Earlier the station was in bad shape, but today the artists have transformed it into an art junction. Now everybody loves to stay here for a while to enjoy the shades of Madhubani painting.”

Transformed look of Madhubani station

He further said, “Tourists come to visit Madhubani and the land is world famous for its art and culture. There is not a single home in Madhubani that does not have a painter. The initiative to beautify the station was really appreciable. I have never seen a series of paintings in such a big area. The railway administration with the local participation has done a commendable job. I must say that this initiative will also provide a platform to the Mithila artists.”

“I have seen how the artists have worked day and night to embellish this station. Now the passengers coming here are blessed with the ancient art-culture of Mithila” -- Mamta Jha


World Famous Art Work

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.



Madhubani Paintings

 Themes have been identified to be painted on the wall and each group has been allotted separate themes. The themes include stories such as the wedding of Sita Mata, Lilas of Sri Krishna, Krishan-Radha love story and rural life and culture of Mithila region
The world famous Mithila painting also known as Madhubani painting is folk painting practiced in Mithila region of India especially in Bihar and Nepal. One can find its mention in the Ramayana also.

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.

The cultural collage of Mithila Paintings have transformed one of the dirtiest railway stations of the country into second cleanest one. Looking at this, one can imagine that cultural longings, people's participation and traversing the indigeneity could be the next stepping stone in the nationwide cleanliness drive.