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Century old Manjusha, the pictorial reflections of folklore from Ange Pradesh managed to conquer many hearts in the cultural capital of India.
It has the opportunity to became the theme of a Puja Pandal of Benrick Club, Moor Avenue Puja Samity at Tolloyganj locality in Kolkata this time.
The puja organizers at Netajee Nagar, Tollyganj has displayed the Puja Pandal this time with Manjusha arts at its 68 th anniversary this time. Local Manjusha artists mostly youths from Kala Kendra, a local college for fine arts and music which is affiliated with Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University, completed more than 300 Manjusha paintings in blocks and screen paintings while staying at Calcutta over months, finally given the shape of the entire Puja Pandal spreading over 4000 square feet space with Manjusha decorations.
“This time we allotted Rs 5 lakh for Pandal covered with Manjusha paintings in our Puja budget,” said Pulak Pal, chief decorator of Benrick Club. Local Manjusha painters like Shyam Verma, Manas, Chitrasen and Gulsan who earlier went to Calcutta and started the works, said the club also gave the Manjusha team some remuneration mainly for traveling Bhagalpur to Kolkata and also for painting materials.
“Last year one Shanu Kumar Verma, the Manjusha artiest from Bhagalpur came to attain a workshop where I was thrilled to notice the excellent Manjusha art for the first time. I went Bhagalpur later where I was felicitated at Kala Kendra. But the thing which impressed me most was the excellent Manjusha art and its relevance,” Pal mentioned.
Pal said he decided to give Manjusha a platform in Puja Pandal in our Club for giving this unique age old traditional folk art a big exposer. Ram Lakhan Singh “Guru Jee”, principal of Kala Kendra who was facelifted with the team members on the evening of September 23 at the Puja Pandal of Benrick Club said that such exposer for Manjusha would be very fruitful.
Shashi Shanker, a prominent Manjusha artiest said many other artists like Shanu Kumar Verma, Mithilesh, Santosh, Jairanjan, Gautam time to time went Calcutta to assist the preparing of Manjusha at the Club. Shashi is also the member in Shilpika, a group of artists at Bhagalpur pioneer to revive Manjusha in eighties along with Sekhar, also brought Late Chakrovorty Devi, the legend of Manjusha art in Bhagalpur, earlier approached for spreading the essence of this old folk art outside of this region. “Our effort has managed somehow to have a platform like a big Durga Puja Pandal at Calcutta, hope it will help to revive this old art,” Shashi pointed out.
“Manjusha art has some diversions in accidences with social conditions. Manjusha generally goes with snake and other Natural structures but we developed Manjusha paintings through different important subjects like women empowerments, Beti Bacho beti Padao, Nasha Bandi, Swachhta Avijan etc. In Bhagalpur city we almost decorated all the government establishments and public places with Manjusha paintings with such diversification,” Shahshi added further.
Chado Soudagar, the erstwhile silk merchant from Champa (Bhagalpur) the capital of Ange Pradesh used to trade across the world and his conflict with Hindu deity, Manasa (mentioned in Manasa Mongal, a religious epic in Bengali) is considered as the origin of Manjusha Painting. “If Mansha Mongal is the great tradition, its little tradition is Bhagalpur’s Manjusha art,” pointed out Rajiv Sinha, head of the department of post graduate department of ancient history in Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University. He said the general prospective, the theme of Manasa Mongal Kavya is empowerment of women as deity Manasa forcefully taken Puja in the hands of Chado Soudagar. “ Displaying Manjusha art at Durga Puja Pandal in Bengal is very important in this context, first the massage of women empowerment has made vocal during the puja of Maa Durga and secondly Manjusha art once connects the old tradition of Bihar Bengal from a big platform like Durga Puja at Kolkata,” Sinha pointed out.
Pal said that in coming time, he would work on the folk songs of Ange Pradesh which depicts how Bihula had concurred over the God and save his husband, Lakinder who was died by snake- bite by the order of goddess Bishahari.
Bihula, daughter-in-law of Chando Soudagar once set of her voyage with the dead body of her husband, Lakindar on Manjusha on river Ganga and subsequently returned back after making him alive. Actually Manasa punished Chando Soudagar for not worship her with killing his seven sons and destroying all his big ships which toured world markets.
Manjusha is indeed a temple shaped boxe, made of bamboo, jute-straw and paper inside which the devotees keep their ceremonial materials. These boxes are however illustrated with paintings with natural colours of red, yellow and green that tell a tale of Bihula. According to Sinha who recently published his research on this subject in a book, Bihula’s boat in Manjusha was decorated by a character called Lahsan Mali, a gardener. “Like Madhubani painting, Manjusha is also pictorial reflections of folklore, poetry, religion and the larger cultural consciousness of the Anga region,” he pointed out.