Puri: Coronavirus pandemic has been festering around the world since the beginning of 2020. The brutish virus has affected life and livelihood of many. With no exception, the traditional Pattachitra art of Puri district’s Raghurajpur village has also faced the heat.

Cyclone Fani in the mid-2019 and now the coronavirus pandemic have proved to be a double whammy for the local Pattachitra industry.

Pattachitra, a traditional palm leaf-based scroll painting, has been flourishing in Raghurajpur village since hundreds of years. Pattachitra art form is known for its intricate details of mythological narratives and folktales.

[caption id="attachment_483390" align="alignnone" width="750"] Intricate Designs Of Pattachitra[/caption]

Raghurajpur village had garnered international reputation for these exquisite scroll paintings. The village once used to host foreign and domestic tourists in large numbers is now remaining deserted due to COVID19.

To make ends meet, the skilled Pattachitra artists are now resorting to do other professions. Narayan Sahoo, a Pattachitra artist is now selling vegetables on a moped. “It has become difficult for us to earn livelihood from Pattachitra art. I am forced to sell vegetables,” said Sahoo.

Another Pattachitra artist, Prabhakar Moharana said, “This is our age-old tradition. I learnt these paintings from my father, but we cannot survive by making Pattachitras anymore. Cyclone Fani and now coronavirus has cast a detrimental effect on our business. We will be forced to become farm labours if the situation continues to remain so.”

[caption id="attachment_483394" align="aligncenter" width="750"] Prabhakar Moharana, Pattachitra Artist[/caption]

Sonali Mohanty, a woman Pattachitra Artist who used to be self-reliant is now jobless due to COVID19. Mohanty said, “Not a single tourist has come to our village since 8 months. I have not sold a single canvas since then. How long will we make these paintings with zero earning?” asked Mohanty.

[caption id="attachment_483392" align="alignnone" width="750"] Sonali Mohanty, Pattachitra Artist[/caption]

Raghurajpur village was declared a ‘Digital Village’ in 2017. But now the financial condition of this village has crippled.

However, the local administration claimed that efforts to rebuild the traditional heritage of this village are underway. T. Badrinath, General Administrator Of District Industries Centre said, “We are trying to digitalise the arts and paintings which could make the selling of these goods possible on e-commerce platforms,” he said adding that plans are afoot to rope in e-commerce majors like Amazon and Flipkart to market these products internationally.

(Edited By Debasish Panigrahi)

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