Cyclone Fani crumples the canvas of Odisha ‘Pattachitra’ hub

Bhubaneswar: Of many things that makes Odisha so unique and special, Pattachitra, the art of traditional, cloth-based scroll painting has always captivated the minds of people from all around the world. And a lot of credit for that goes to the village of artisans, Raghurajpur, in Puri district which has earned a special distinction for keeping the age-old art form alive & thriving.

Cyclone Fani which pummelled several coastal districts of Odisha after making landfall near Puri has left Raghurajpur – the canvas, which once proudly rendered the intricacies of the Pattachitra, terribly crumpled.

Torrential rainfall, salty marine water inundation along with fierce sand storm during the cyclone has destroyed years of hard labour and intricate creations of the villagers.

Raghurajpur is a small village boasting of 140 families comprising around 750 artisans who passionately follow the occupation of making ‘Pattachitras.’ The quality of art work and craftsmanship that one finds in this coastal village is second to none and that is the reason why visitors from all around the world throng the village to witness the art form and purchase them. But the ill-fated cyclone has totally ravaged the village and along with it the artistic creations of its artisans.

For the local artisans, Fani has dealt a severe blow to their supply chain of raw materials used in their art and crafts like coconut, betel nuts, pal leaves and ‘Kaitha’ trees.

Preliminary damage assessment reports claimed that around Rs 10 crore worth of patachitra works and crafts have been damaged in the cyclone.

“The cyclone has taken away everything from us – our livelihood, tool kits, raw materials and most of all our very source of existence. We don’t do farming or are engaged in other forms of profession, so we urge the government to help us restore our means of income,” said an aggrieved artisan.

After the devastation of the cyclone, the officials of Textiles and Handloom department visited the village to take stock the damages caused by the cyclone.

I&PR secretary Sanjay Singh has also accepted that cyclone Fani has caused extensive loss to the tune of Rs 65 crore to the handloom sector while the village of artisans, Raghurajpur has also witnessed severe damages.