Last year when I visited Tata Steel Foundation’s Samvaad Heritage & Culture of Indian Tribes 2022, I had a chance encounter with artist Sumanti Devi Bhagat who is the flagbearer of Oraon art.
Bhagat has been championing the cause of this dying art form which she learnt from her family and has researched about Oraon folklore which has now been released as a book as well.
Interestingly the tribe worships nature and the paintings describe the festivals that are associated with the community. The Karma festival where the trees are worshipped is a favourite theme.
Looking at her art, what is unmissable is the stories that are hidden in plain sight. “This is a good luck painting,” she explains, pointing to a piece where an egg is held within a curved stick and has rice grains surrounding it. “This represents the Danda Kattna, a pooja happens thrice a year for the new harvest, when the harvest is ready to be cut and once the crop is cut and this is why it represents abundance and good fortune.”
Read the full story that first appeared in The New Indian Express dated June 6, 2023 here: