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Scroll Paintings of West Bengal is integral component of India’s versatile Culture, have enough admirers to ensure survival

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New Delhi, May 5, 2017: Works of art and paintings have been an integral component of India’s versatile culture and a recent book attempts to capture minute details and important facets of the scroll paintings of Bengal. The author says that the art has enough admirers to ensure its survival.

“The future of Bengali pata paintings looks healthy to me. Even with the charm of electronic arts growing stronger by the day, people are drawn to patas, perhaps more today than 50 years ago,” the author, Mandakranta Bose, told IANS in an email interview.

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“Several cultural organisations and the West Bengal state government continue to nurture the production and marketing of patas and the patuas (scroll painters) themselves are skilled at presenting their work to the public, for instance, at the Calcutta Book Fair. The art of the pata may not be as popular as Bollywood movies but it has enough admirers to ensure its survival,” she added.

“The Ramayana in Bengali Folk Paintings” (Niyogi Books/Rs 795/130 Pages) attempts to explain how scroll paintings have become an inseparable part of storytelling, inculcated as a prerogative of the itinerant bard and the village artisans of all times.

Treated as “heritage” throughout Bengal, the paintings are drawn in colourful and vibrant style on “patas”, or scrolls, with vegetable colours and other indigenous dyes. Each scroll depicts one single incident or episode from the epic and the next set of narration follows the other, forming a narrative format that is much like a film roll or a comic strip.

“Some years ago in Medinipur district of West Bengal, while I was investigating more on the paintings, a ‘patua’ painter compared Rama to George Bush in his paintings. While Rama succeeded in bringing his warriors home, would Bush be able to do the same for his soldiers fighting in Iraq, was the question the painter tried to ask through his works,” Bose recalled.

The author said that it is in this way that the ‘patua’ painters make the past relevant to the present.

How are the Bengali scroll paintings different from the other scroll paintings?

Although painted scrolls are found in many diversified folk art traditions of India, Bengali scrolls stand out for their sustained and elaborate narrative treatment, built upon “focused plots and clear-cut characters” reflecting specific themes. In the context of the technique as well, the paintings can be distinguished by their gallant colours and bold lines, she said.

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The author of this well-researched book was first introduced to the patas of West Bengal at a friend’s home in Kolkata.

“Over the years, on my visits to Kolkata, I came across more and more of these paintings in the circles of my academic friends. I also found out that this art form was slowly gaining popularity amongst art collectors and academicians. The more I looked at these patas, the more I was drawn to them as much for their artistic form as for their narrative power,” she added. (IANS)

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Hindus In Delhi Push For A Temple On The Ruins Of a Mosque

The Supreme Court has delayed hearings into the disputed site but hardliners have vowed to lay a foundation stone next year regardless.

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Supporters of Vishwa Hindu Parishad gather during a rally in New Delhi, Dec. 9, 2018. The group gathered thousands of supporters to demand the construction of a Hindu temple on a site where a mosque was attacked, demolished in 1992. VOA

Tens of thousands of hardline Hindu protesters marched in New Delhi on Sunday, calling for a grand temple to be built on the ruins of a destroyed mosque in a flashpoint Indian city.

Trident-waving devotees clad in saffron filled a huge parade ground in the Indian capital under tight security, where speakers warned Prime Minister Narendra Modi they would not let up until the temple was sanctioned.

Some of Modi’s supporters feel the Hindu nationalist leader has not done enough to raise a shrine at a site in Ayodhya, a city believed by many to be the birthplace of the deity Ram.

The site was home to a medieval mosque for 460 years until Hindu zealots tore it down in 1992, kicking off riots across India that left thousands dead, most of them Muslims.

Its future has been tied up in courts for decades but some hardliners want Modi, who is seeking reelection in 2019, to push parliament to guarantee the temple by law.

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“The gathering here is telling you that Hindus won’t sit back until the temple is built, and our wishes are respected,” said Champat Rai, the leader of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) group that organized the protest.

Demonstrators chanting “Praise be to Ram” packed the Ramlila Maidan, a vast ground capable of holding more than 50,000 people, and filled the surrounding streets.

Some carried maces and tridents — weapons traditionally wielded by Hindu gods — and traveled great distances by train and bus to reach the rally.

“We have come here to protect our religion and Hindu pride. We want a temple for our Lord Ram,” Hitesh Bharadwaj, a teacher from Delhi’s satellite city Noida, told AFP.

The hardline VHP has applied pressure on Modi in recent weeks, staging a huge show of force in Ayodhya itself last month.

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A close ally of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the group is spearheading a push to raise the Ram temple, and is calling for more protests as the premier prepares to go to the polls by May.

The BJP was on the margins until the 1980s when its top leaders, including Modi, backed a growing movement for the construction of the Ram temple.

Its advocates want parliament to introduce a law bypassing legal hurdles blocking the temple before Modi’s term ends.

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The Supreme Court has delayed hearings into the disputed site but hardliners have vowed to lay a foundation stone next year regardless.

“We don’t care about the courts. A grand temple will be constructed in 2019,” Sushil Chawdhary, a VHP leader, told AFP. (VOA)