A Different Kind of Raja & Eid Celebration
Bhubaneswar is still waiting for a respite from the grueling heat. Monsoon has still not hit the city, this year. And the Raja festival fell during a hot and humid week. However, excited townsfolk beat the heat celebrating at restaurants, fairs, Ekamra Haat, and other event venues.
three-day festival where young women take a break from household work to play games and enjoy some time off.
A slightly different kind of celebration, coinciding with Raja and Eid, was the two days long Craft Conversation held on 16th and 17th June at Kala Bhumi – Odisha Crafts Museum. It introduced the city to the rich craft traditions of Orissa, familiarized participants to the layout of Kala Bhumi, avenues to get involved with the museum, as well as a heads-up for upcoming events.
First Round of Craft Conversations (Day 1 Experiences)
First, on agenda was an engaging hour of Crafts Stories told by Sujit Mahapatra and Jitu Misra from Bakul Foundation. Sujit started the session with some interesting questions about the influences of Islam and Hinduism (especially, Jagannath worship) on the crafts of the state. It was followed by Jitu’s talk that took the audience through the history of the oldest craft form – pottery. The talk focused on the Tulasi Chauras of Orissa made from terracotta, which is shaped like miniature temples. The only other place with similar structures is in Goa, where the temples for Tulsi plants are much more colorful.
There were two workshops on day one, a palm leaf etching workshop led by artist Dijabara Das and the other was a Ganjifa workshop led by artist Gangadhar Maharana. There were all-day pottery workshops, sculptures and traditional jewelry on display, some lovely children’s books illustrated through various crafts from the world over in the library. OTDC had set up a food stall with Oriya staples, including the much-favored Poda Pitha. (Poda Pitha is baked fermented rice, black gram, grated coconut, and jaggery. The baking is typically done overnight; the slightly browned crust, which gives it the name, is a wonderfully crispy texture. It is typically prepared during Raja.)
Another attraction of the day was the Museum Walk, led by Saneeya Singh and Jitu Misra. The hour-long talk provided a basic introduction to the various crafts on display at the museum. A great follow-up event on day 2 was the Saree Talk held in the handloom section of the museum. I missed the talk; however, I wish it was recorded and made available for viewing. Saneeya mentioned that the museum plans to have the guided walk every Sunday at 3.30 pm as well as in-depth craft discussions, museum talks, and longer workshops in the future. So craft-lovers of Bhubaneswar must follow Kala Bhumi on social media to stay informed of these upcoming events.
The evening turned melodious with an open-air flute and tabla performance beside a small pond, on a stone platform.
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