Women in India have played a crucial role in preserving traditional art forms, by handing down the knowledge and skills generation after generation. One such woman is Godawari Dutta, who won a Padma Shri in 2019, for her contribution to Madhubani art. This art form is practiced in the Mithila region of Bihar and is famous all over the world as Mithila painting. This type of painting is known for the representation of rituals and practices for particular occasions, including festivals, religious rituals, etc. However, it was only after this 93-year-old bagged the fourth highest civilian honour last year, did India come together to celebrate her.

Here are some inspiring facts about Godawari Dutta:

  • Godawari Dutta is a renowned Mithila artist. She popularised Mithali paintings all over the world. A museum in Japan also displayed her paintings in 2019. Trishula, one of Dutta’s finest paintings, was also displayed at the museum. Her paintings have also been exhibited in Osaka, Tokyo, Kobe, etc.

Mithila art is unique and the coming generation, too, should think about keeping it alive. – Godawari Dutta

  • President Pratibha Patil in 2006 conferred the title of  ‘Shilp Guru’ on Dutta. She aims to inspire the new generation to take forward the Mithali art.

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  • Godawari who is from Darbhanga district’s Bahadurpur village, lost her father when she was 10 years old. Her mother encouraged her to focus on practicing Madhubani art.
  • Godawari’s husband abandoned her, never to return, leaving her to care for their son. But with her determination and hard work she made Madhubani art a global phenomenon.
  • The 93-year-old is renowned for her portrayal of characters from Ramayana and Mahabharata in her art. Unlike other artists, she uses bamboo sticks to paint.
  • The Padma Shri winner has tutored 50,000 students in India and abroad in Madhubani art. Under the Center for cultural resources and training by the government of India, she educated many teachers and students in the art of Mithila painting.
  • She also guided women in her village in Mithila painting and helped them become financially independent. She also formed a village committee for promoting girl child education.

The 93-year-old portrays the characters from Ramayana and Mahabharata in her art. Unlike other artists, she uses bamboo sticks to paint.

  •  Dutta recalled in an interview that it was her mother Subhadra Devi who encouraged her to pursue this art form. “I was afraid that if my mother, who too was a great artist, would see painting and scold me. But when she saw me, she praised me a lot and said I would become a great artist some day. She encouraged me saying that I should not panic and should continue with my work,” said Dutta.

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  • According to Godawari Madhubani painting form was not as famous as it is now. She hopes that the government continues to motivate young artists by giving opportunities in the future also.
  • Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is known to have one of Godawari Dutta’s paintings in her office.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Dutta once said that a lot remains to be done to sustain Madhubani art. She said, “Mithila art is unique and the coming generation, too, should think about keeping it alive.”

Image Credits: PatnaBeats

Mansi is an Intern at SheThePeople.TV

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