There would hardly be a soul about us that doesn’t love to travel. Now imagine that travel means not only discovering yourself but also people who are in want of support and means to whom you can give a better future too. 39-year-old Pankaj Trivedi is one lucky biker who under the aegis of Tata Capital is scouring 2,000 km from Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh to Guwahati in Assam as part of The Half Stories initiative. The idea is for Trivedi, a qualified expedition leader from the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, to bring such people to light and have common folks like us contribute. Here, Trivedi shares about his experience of a unique village in Odisha. Excerpts:
Q. How did you happen to discover Raghurajpur in Odisha?
A. En route, I have met many people and have told the stories we have stumbled upon in Dharamshala, Manali, Rishikesh, Gadgun, Puri — which ultimately led me to Raghurajpur in Puri. It is a 120-member village — a heritage arts and crafts village where every villager is an artist and every home is an artist’s studio.
Raghurajpur artist working at a pattachitra artwork
Q. What kind of hardships do these artists face?
A. The families in this village practise various forms of traditional Odisha art: pattachitra, tal chitra, silk painting, stone carving, coconut painting, and several more. They dedicate five to 15 days and sometimes, even months to create such artworks. The price oscillates between '500 to 2 lakhs, depending on various factors. Usually, middlemen pick their paintings for nominal prices and sell them at much higher hiked up rates, pocketing hefty profits. Also, most artists live a hand-to-mouth existence, and their artworks need to be sold off as soon as they are ready, to support their survival.
Q. How do you plan to make the website accessible to the villagers, and how can it act as a platform to showcase their talent?
A. To make the traditional Odisha art of Raghurajpur village accessible globally, a website for Raghurajpur village will be very helpful. Families would be profiled and their artwork would be listed in individual galleries. The artists can provide their contact details and connect with buyers directly.
Log on to: www.doright.in/category/puri/ (other Half Stories can also be read here.)