Surajkund Mela, platform for leather puppetry

Chandigarh: Practicers of the dying art of leather puppetry feel that the ongoing 26th Surajkund Crafts Mela has provided an apt platform for showcasing the art.

S Hanumanthu, who is a National Award Winner in 2009 and has put up a stall, is displaying contemporary items like lamp shades, wall clocks and bookmarks made with leather puppetry. "The Mela had always been a learning experience besides providing a platform for this art," he says.

The craftsman has exported his products to Spain, France and other European countries and has also trained art students in Guwahati and Assam.

Leather puppetry, which originated in Andhra Pradesh, dates back to the 15th century and subsequently served as a major form of entertainment for people.

The tradition was kept alive as it passed through generations with beautiful designs using vegetable dyes skillfully drawn on leather to depict epics like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana.

Sindhi Sriramla, a National Award Winner in 2006, says that displaying his craft at the Mela "is always very encouraging" as it has "opened many doors of opportunities" besides improving his financial condition.