Dalit History Month: Is the Legacy of Madhubani’s Exquisite ‘Harijan’ Painting, Once a Catalyst for Dalit Women's Empowerment, Now in Jeopardy?

The art form's high aesthetic value and devotion to tradition make it valued all over the world. But the artisans are forced to live a pathetic life, courtesy the government’s neglect, deep-rooted discrimination.
Sushila Devi has been practicing the artform for the past 26 years.
Sushila Devi has been practicing the artform for the past 26 years.The Mooknayak

Darbhanga/Madhubani (Bihar)- Sometimes, unexpected outcomes arise from discrimination, revealing hidden opportunities. Such is the case with the Dalit inclusion in the exquisite Madhubani or Mithila paintings. Legend has it that in the 1970s, a German anthropologist named Erika Moser visited the Jitwarpur area of Madhubani, where she resided with the renowned Padma Shri awardee, Sita Devi.

The filmmaker and social activist liked the magnetically attractive ‘Godna’ (tattoo) on Devi’s body so much that she asked her to draw the geometric patterns on handmade paper. But the legendary artist — who belonged to the ‘upper’ caste Mahapatra Brahmin family — turned down the request, saying she could not copy the art form practiced by the nomadic Nat community, which is socially untouchable.

“Jaati pratha un dinon apne charam par thi (caste system was at its peak those days),” Mithilesh Kumar Jha, 46, told The Mooknayak, while narrating the story — which others in the know-how disputed.

However, he claimed, his grandmother (Devi) inspired and trained women from the two sub-castes (Dusadh and the Chamar) among the Dalit community to embrace and master the art form with a variety of tools — including matchsticks, twigs, fingers, nib-pens, and homemade brushes. They were also trained to make organic colors from charcoal, turmeric, flowers, leaves, plants, rice powder, indigo, sandalwood, etc.

The Legendary Sita Devi
The Legendary Sita Devi
Mithilesh's exquisite artworks.
Mithilesh's exquisite artworks.

But here is a catch: these ‘lower’ caste women did not paint images of deities like Ram-Sita, Krishna-Radha, or Shiva-Parvati that were supposedly exclusive to the ‘upper’ caste Maithili women. They depicted in their paintings the oral history of Raja Sahlesh (their folk hero) and Rahu (their primary deity) based on conventional tattoo patterns. This added another distinctive new style to the region’s flourishing art scene, making it more diverse.

Instead of focusing on ‘upper’ caste Hinduism, Moser too is said to have advised Dalit women to paint in their own unique theme styles and concentrate on their own rich customs and folklore, their own deities and idols, and culture and rituals.

What was common between the paintings of the women from the two different social groups were depictions of lions, elephants, peacocks, and fish — which are considered auspicious in Hinduism.

But these differences no longer exist. The caste line in art form has blurred to the extent of noticeability. Brahmins began making Godna paintings, and the Dalits showed an interest in painting mythological figures. In a state still fighting caste, the Madhubani painting was an avenue for artists to break boundaries.

After embracing the art, the Dalit women and men — who generally go by the surname Paswan — began scripting a new chapter of their social recognition and economic independence.

With the financial support of a Fulbright Scholar, Moser, and author Raymond Lee Owens, established the Master Craftsmen Association of Mithila at Jitwarpur in 1977. It was led by Dr. Gauri Mishra in 1977. During Owens’s lifetime, this organization was quite active and collaborated with the Ethnic Arts Foundation of the United States. It helped artists of the region earn handsomely.

Over time, the practice of this art provided the oppressed Dusadh community members a great deal of confidence, elevating their self-esteem to the point where they were able to take part in more empowering political discourses and activities.

As electorates in Madhubani will cast their votes for the Lok Sabha elections 2024 on May 20 (Phase 5), The Mooknayak visited the district’s art hubs of Jitwarpur and Ranti to delve into the issues of artists and what the government has done so far to address their problems.

Over the past 30 years, the two villages have emerged as prominent centers of Mithila painting. So far, seven Mithila artists have been awarded the Padma Shri (the country’s fourth-highest civilian honor), of whom, barring Ganga Devi, six are from these two villages.

Raja Sahlesh and other deities.
Raja Sahlesh and other deities.

How Mithila Paintings Flourished

Journalist and researcher Arvind Das said Bihar witnessed a terrible drought in the beginning of the 1960s — leading to widespread starvation and destitution. The then government of Bihar initiated a relief program to offer non-agricultural livelihoods to the underprivileged population.

“The government, in fact, attempted to empower people through paintings. As part of the program, it gave a grant of Rs 50,000 to Mumbai-based artist Bhaskar Kulkarni — who visited several parts of the state. In the southeast of the Madhubani area, at Jitwarpur village, he saw mud walls painted with organic hues that portrayed folklore. Impressed with the beauty of the paintings, Kulkarni inspired the women in the area to paint on paper. And their works were put on display at the 1962 New Delhi Industrial Exhibition. Each painting cost between Rs 5 and Rs 35. As a result, the art became commercial, giving the village’s women a chance to show off their skills,” he said.

When asked about Mithlesh’s claim that it was Sita Devi who encouraged and taught the art form to Dalit women and as a result, the Harijani painting came into existence, he said it’s an “exaggeration”.

“Madhubani painting, which also includes the Dalit artworks, has been there since time immemorial. No doubt, many artists learned it from legendary artists of their times. Sita Devi was one such artist who trained many. But claiming that she was the one who brought the Dalits into this field is not correct. There were many artists from the community like Padma Shri Mahasundari Devi who were contemporary to Sita Devi,” he added.

A canvas painting by Urmila Devi's grandson and granddaughter.
A canvas painting by Urmila Devi's grandson and granddaughter.

‘Govt Apathy, Dwindling Economy’

Though Mithila paintings have gained international attention, the state of its craftspeople is lesser known. They are faced with a number of obstacles, including the lack of a formal marketing system, low income, intermediaries controlling the business, and a lack of government support.

As a result, the younger generation is not more interested in pursuing the art form as a career.

Urmila Devi’s son, Krishna Paswan, left a plum job after completing B.Tech in mechanical engineering to learn the intricacies of the art form and take his family’s traditional business to new heights. Though he does not regret his decision, yet he sees no prosperous future in the field.

“It is ironic that an artist has to struggle throughout their life for sustenance, a respectable living. Many of us die first without recognition and respect,” he told The Mooknayak.

He complained that one of their biggest challenges the artisans face is the lack of a formal marketplace where they may sell artwork.

“A painting on handmade paper with organic colors takes at least seven to ten days to complete. We are forced to depend on middlemen who purchase our paintings and offer us pennies in exchange because there is no market. These artworks are offered for sale at upscale galleries or retail establishments. For a painting, we receive around Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,500 after working on it for nearly a week. In the hamlet, even earning Rs 500 per day as a day wage laborer is a better deal than this. We are aware that intermediaries are taking advantage of our ignorance and impoverishment,” he rued.

As far as exhibitions are concerned, he said there is a limited quota for artists from different states. “Generally, those whose works have been recognized by the government are given priority over non-awarded good artisans to set up stalls in exhibitions at Delhi Haat, Pragati Maidan, etc. And it’s well-known as to how awards are won these days. In this condition, we give our paintings to those who manage to secure a stall on a commission basis,” he described.

The artists in Jitwarpur alleged the government has no interest in purchasing their creations straight from them. “We get a meager payment when we take our paintings to the Central Cottage Industries local office. The remaining amount is not paid until the paintings are sold, thus we will have to wait months for it. The payment was previously made in three months,” said 27-year-old Santosh Paswan.

He added although his village was designated as a “Shilpkala Gram” in 2016, it has not yet undergone the necessary development. “The government purchased four acres of land to construct an auditorium for holding exhibitions at regular intervals and setting up permanent stalls for local artisans, but even brick has been laid,” he continued.

The village lacks basic infrastructures such as a primary health center. The village’s national award winner, Uttam Paswan, has been suffering from liver cancer, but he cannot get treatment because of his financial situation. Chano Devi, another recipient of a national honor, died of cancer in 2012 without receiving any medical attention. It was already too late when the community came up with money for her medical care.

The artisans alleged the dominance of Brahmin and Kayastha communities in Mithila painting did not allow their business to grow.

According to Shanti Devi, another award-winning artist who showcased ‘Chandrayaan-3’ at G20 Art and Craft Exhibition in September last year, women from the Dalit castes have had to overcome both gender and caste norms to enter the field of Madhubani painting, while upper-caste women have traditionally been the traditional painters.

“The dominance of Brahmins and Kayasthas in the industry always prevented our businesses from expanding. Untouchability is still practiced, and the ‘upper’ castes always take away the opportunities of Dalits. Whenever anyone comes to the village to buy paintings, the ‘upper caste’ residents direct them to the artists belonging to the community. As a result, Dalits are not given the chance to share their work,” said the resident of Laheriaganj.

She is upset that despite the government organizing multiple Madhubani art exhibitions as early as the 1980s, no attempt was made to contact the illiterate Dalits who would not have been able to understand the advertisements.

She returned her national award to the President in 1984, saying, “I don't have a house to keep it. What is the use of the award for me?”

Following the incident, the Central government provided her financial assistance of Rs 62,000 for construction of her home. Allegedly envious of her, the ‘upper’ caste residents of her village caused several hurdles to halt the construction.

The artisans said the Ministry of Textiles used to organize exhibitions throughout the year in the past. However, under the current dispensations, the frequency of such exhibitions has drastically decreased.

“At least 24 exhibitions, including the Gandhi Shilp Bazaar, the Craft Bazaar, the Indian Expo and others, used to take place annually for 15 days each. However, these exhibitions are no longer organized. In addition to these well-known shows, the ministry used to host regional fairs and smaller exhibitions. Craftsmen now have to wait for the Bihar Mahotsav, Sonepur fair, Opendra Maharathi Shilp Anusandhan exhibition, Suraj Kund Mela and the Trade Fair held at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi to showcase and sell their artworks. However, NGOs now organize these and take all of the money,” said Uttam.

Only wealthy and well-connected artists, as per Jitwarpur native Mohli Devi, are able to participate in these exhibitions. “The only artists who can attend these fairs or contribute to the counters at Dilli Haat, Hyderabad Haat, Chandigarh Haat, Orissa Haat and other similar events are a select group of well-connected and wealthy artists,” she alleged.

According to her, the government gives them Rs 100 a day to participate in the Gram Shri Mela to display their artwork. “Is the amount enough to pay for even a single meal in a big city? she asked.

Painting adorning walls is a common sight in Madhunabi's Jitwarpur and Ranti.
Painting adorning walls is a common sight in Madhunabi's Jitwarpur and Ranti.

Why Middlemen Rule the Roost

Majority of the artists are rural women who paint after completing their domestic chores. One major issue all of them face is their communication. They hardly speak any other language except Maithili. They don’t leave the village for work either. They receive job orders from middlemen or agents, and as a result, they are reliant on them.

Not even the government, they alleged, purchases paintings straight from regional artists.

Meera Devi claimed the middlemen who purchase their paintings at throwaway prices get good deals when they sell it to international clients. “We sell our works to agents with the hope that it will draw art enthusiasts to our village. The foreigners don’t always come here, but when they do, they usually give us a decent amount. Our family depends on paintings; it is not simply just a part-time job,” she remarked.

She said the government earlier used to place orders directly to artists. The system, however, no longer exists, and agents are the only ones who give artists work orders.

“We must continue to have friendly connections with the intermediaries, ignoring the exploitation they do. We only receive around half of what they charge for our paintings, but because they bring us business, we cannot afford to complain about them,” the woman stated.

Another woman artist recounted that once her painting on a silk saree was purchased by a showroom in Delhi for Rs 50,000. But as soon as they saw her name in a corner, the buyer declined to buy it.

“We are not even supposed to get credit for our meticulous artwork. They (business agencies) fear that we will be approached directly by clients, who are looking to get their materials painted at a reduced cost,” she said.

Anil Kumar Jha, secretary, Gramothan Parishad — an NGO working for the welfare of artists, said the industry has been let down by both the state and the Central government. It was hit hard by the two lockdowns, which were imposed in 2020 and 2021 in the wake of the deadly outbreak of COVID-19. He said the art industry of the region is still recovering from the double whammy of the lockdown and “mindless” demonetization. Prior to the lockout, according to him, this small sector had a monthly revenue of approximately Rs 25–30 lakhs.

“The Madhubani paintings provide a significant portion of Bihar’s foreign exchange, yet it lacks a proper marketing channel. Only a small number of artists are invited to set up stalls at exhibitions, which has resulted in a significant decrease of over 25%. There is no specific market for artwork, with the exception of a select few like Dilli Haat. There is still no government emporium for the industry,” he said.

Asked about government efforts to promote and financially strengthen the cottage industry, he said, “A few artists received a Rs 50,000 loan under the Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY) from the Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency Ltd. as financial assistance. However, the amount was insufficient to have any effect. An artist should be given a minimum of Rs 2.5 to Rs 3 lakh. Just over 500 artists receive the Artisans Credit Card out of the more than 5,000 applications received by the Ministry of Textiles’ Department of Handicrafts, and that too only after they bribe officials.”

Five artists from Jitwarpur and Ranti have received the Padma Shri — the fourth-highest civilian award, ten national honors, and 150 state honors. A pension of Rs 3,000 is given to at least 100 women from the two Dalit communities. After turning 60, those artists who have received national or state-level awards in recognition of their work in the field get the pension.

Jha insisted not just award winners, but all artists who are above 60 should be given the pension. “Sadly, there are a handful of paintings by doyens left for exhibition,” he said, adding that if an aspiring artist wants to study and learn from the works of legendary Sita Devi and Gita Devi, he or she won’t be able to do so as their paintings have not been preserved.

He has a piece of advice for the government: include Madhubani painting in the curriculum of schools and colleges.

Sita Devi’s paintings are unfortunately not housed in any collection in India or Bihar in particular; instead, it finds a place in permanent collections at several international institutions, including the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Mithila Museum in Japan, and the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris.

No Technical Advancements

In Jitwarpur, the art form provides a living for at least 70% of the families. Almost half of them are incapable of writing their own names. This explains why it has been challenging for craftspeople to launch online enterprises.

“We cannot take part in different exhibitions organized by the government because of a lack of resources. We will be able to work independently if the government arranges for some kind of office in our state where we can exhibit and sell our artwork directly,” an artist said.

‘All is Well’

An official from the Office of the DC (Handicraft), Madhubani district, claimed that "all is well" in the industry — which is performing "good enough".

“In addition to other insurance plans, the government offers Rs 20,000 to each artist under the Hasta Shilpa Vikas Yojna. Furthermore, the government is considering increasing the number of exhibitions every year. Plans are being made to hold additional special camps for schoolchildren in the future, and workshops are being organized for people of all ages,” he told The Mooknayak.

When asked about artisans’ allegations and concerns, he mentioned that every individual has his or her own problems, and the government cannot address them all.

No official from the state’s Ministry of Art & Culture agreed to comment.

The residence of late legendary Chano Devi - one of the architects of Godna painting.
The residence of late legendary Chano Devi - one of the architects of Godna painting.

History of Traditional Art Form at a Glance

Mithila Painting is believed to have begun in the Treta Yuga (epoch). Until 1934, it was just a folk art in the villages. A major earthquake devastated Mithilanchal that year. A British officer, William Archer, while visiting the region to assess the damage and destruction caused by the tremors, spotted the paintings on the broken walls lying in the debris.

He found it similar to the paintings of modern artists such as Picasso and Mira. In an article he wrote in 1949, he had mentioned the uniqueness, brilliance and characteristic features of the Mithila paintings. And this is how the rest of the world came to know about the wondrous art form.

The origin of this art form is traced to the mythological period of the Ramayana, during which Lord Rama ruled over Ayodhya in northern India. Legend has it that Lord Rama and Goddess Sita met each other for the first time in Madhuban (forest of honey). The name of the city Madhubani is said to have originated from there.

Upon breaking Lord Shiva’s bow, which was a precondition for the wedding, Janaka — the erstwhile king of Mithila — married his daughter Sita to Lord Rama. A group of artists was tasked with decorating the wedding venue with beautiful paintings to create an indelible impression of the rich culture of Mithila on guests.

Mithila paintings have two ‘gharanas’ (schools) — the Ranti Gharana and the Jitwarpur Gharana — with five famous styles Kohbar, Godna, Tantric, Bharni, Kachani and Harijan.

Bharni, Kachani and Tantric paintings are based on religious themes. The Mithila region of Bihar has been a seat of tantric practices for the Saiva and Sakti communities. References to the tantric connection of Madhubani Painting are found in the literary work of the poet Vidyapati who belonged to the 12th century.

Godna Painting is tattooing, which is an age-old tradition of India. Modernisation has influenced the Godna art and artists to a great extent. Tattooing has shifted from body to paper, cloth and canvas. Female tattooists have played an important role in the dissemination of Godna painting in the country.

Kohbar painting is done in a room for a newly wed couple. Artists in the bygone times used to paint signs and symbols of sexual pleasure and generational multiplications on the walls of the room where marriages are solemnized and consummated in Bihar. The room is called ‘Kohbar’.

Of late, this style has witnessed several transformations and modernisation.

Below is an introduction of the evolution of Dalit styles and the stories, which influenced.

Godna Art

Godna or tattoo art is a significant subaltern art form. Examining the customs and practices of the Nat people can help one understand how this art came into existence. For many generations, the women in this tribe, locally known as nattins, have been skilled tattoo artists.

The term “Godna” refers to emancipation of Dalit women in the state, explaining annihilation of caste system and restoration of manuski (dignity to themselves).

Godna designs were inscribed as markings on the bodies of prisoners and ‘upper’ caste members, especially in Bengal and Bihar. According to historian Claire Anderson’s study, the majority of these tattoos were created by illiterate women from ‘lower’ castes, who, at the imperial rulers’ request, drew intricate designs and numerals.

But the history of Godna also includes the prejudice against Dalit women, who were compelled by the Manu rule to wear only decorations made of iron and other inferior materials. In a way, getting tattoos was defying that advice. Thus, Godna became for Dalit women both an appealing venue for subaltern forms of expression and an inversion of markers of identification.

Simple black-and-white figures dominated the early tattoo designs, which were mostly centered around lucky symbols and pictures that were considered auspicious in the Nat culture. Herein lies the outstanding contribution of the early Godna painting star, Chano Devi. Her spouse, Roudi Paswan, was a major contributor to the development of the medium.

With the help of her spouse, Chano Devi began incorporating meaning into the tattoo designs by using her artwork to portray Sahlesh’s life story. Additionally, she experimented with natural colors to develop a more unique look.

Eventually, these colours came to be used as the primary means of identifying Dalit’s Godna paintings. The use of Holi colors were soon abandoned by other painters who too began using natural colors, and a brand-new and vibrant genre of Godna (tattoo) paintings emerged. The majority of these natural colors were created by combining cow dung with leaves, flowers, vegetables, bark and roots.

Gobar Style

The originator of this painting technique was Jamuna Devi. Basically, it includes lightly washing the paper with cow dung slurry, which emphasises a lovely sullied aspect and feel and enhances the brilliant colors.

If one looks at it from the lens of caste, it is noteworthy that the Chamars (the Ravidas community) and the Dusadhs have ventured into Mithila painting as a full-time occupation, but other scheduled caste groups of Jitwarpur village, such as the Malis, the Pasis, the Doms and the Dhobis, remained stuck to their traditional professions.

Thus, Jamuna Devi introduced a new painting style that eventually gained enormous fame and demand in commercial marketplaces, in addition to being imitated by painters from ‘higher’ classes. The use of Holi colors on cow dung-washed paper gave her paintings an extraordinary brightness, which catapulted her into stardom. Her paintings on paper and frescoes made of clay were selected for major exhibitions in Japan, New Delhi, Patna and Varanasi.

Men from the area also had a significant role in assisting women in creating their masterpieces by acquainting them with their cultural heritage and gods and deities, such as Rahu and Sahlesh. Roudi Paswan from Jitwarpur village and Ramvilas Paswan from Laheriagunj village were among two such men.

Does Casteism Still Persist?

The inclusion of Dalits in the famous art form has indeed contributed to a certain extent in challenging the caste system and discrimination. While both social groups have seemingly adopted each other’s painting styles like Godna, Aripana, and Kohbhar, the ‘upper’ castes still do not paint the Dalits’ mythological characters such as Sahlesh, Rahu, Baua Bhuddheshwar, etc.

Urmila Devi highlighted that caste systems are pervasive in her area. “Our local community heavily relies on the caste system. We are not allowed to touch their objects of worship or visit the Brahmins’ ritual spaces. We are still considered as untouchables,” she alleged.

The very experience of casteism, space, and even deity segregation is the foundation of Godna art, explained the artist, who was trained by legendary Channo Devi and Roudi Paswan.

“Upper-caste Brahmins used to tell us Ram and Sita are their gods as if they had a monopoly on them. We were not allowed to make and sell their paintings. Though we now give a damn to their dictates and paint Hindu customs, deities, and epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana, they are still hesitant to accept our deities and depict them in their paintings. However, they have adopted our exclusive style of Godna in their themes,” said the woman in her late 60s who is the recipient of several awards, including Rajyothsava and Kalidas Samman.

While strolling in the streets of Jitwarpur and Ranti — the artisan hubs of Madhubani, one can easily notice the segregation in Dalit and ‘upper’ caste settlements. The social outcasts in Jitwarpur live in Paswan Tola, a ghetto of congested, kutcha, dilapidated, or unplastered houses, on the village margins on its southern side. The settlement is also referred to as Dakhin Tola. In Hinduism, the dead are burnt on funeral pyres with their legs on the south and head lying in the north direction. Since Dalits are considered akin to dead people, they are allowed to settle generally on the southern margins of Bihar’s villages.

Political scientist Gopal Guru, in his essay titled ‘Dalits from Margin to Margin,’ has noted that “the urban base of a caste elite turned the very location of the Dalit into an object of contempt and contamination”. Due to its separation based on the concepts of contamination and purity, the settlements are likewise stigmatized.

Other Dalit artists in Jitwarpur also said the same. “They used to frighten us that if we painted their gods, it would bring bad luck upon us. And therefore, we practiced Godna paintings because we were afraid for our lives,” they said.

In addition, many subtypes of Mithila paintings were off-limits to women painters. Krishna Paswan, a young artist, revealed that they were informed that only select members of the ‘upper’ caste possessing “magical powers” were able to create tantric artworks.

Mithlesh Jha confirmed the same but said even not everyone from the Brahmin community practices tantric paintings because it needs a high level of accuracy. “A slight mistake in drawing our outlining may bring misfortune. And it has happened to many,” he claimed.

“Our lives too have a Mahabharat,” Shravan Paswan declares, drawing a comparison between the battles in Hindu epics that are intricately depicted in Madhubani paintings and the existence of Dalits in caste-ridden India.

He is currently in his mid-40s and has always known the art form to be a part of his life. Urmila Devi, 63, is not just his mother but also his teacher and a fellow artist. He too has also received many awards.

Why do the Dalits narrate the story of Raja Salhesh’s birth through their paintings?

Sharvan narrates a story — which starts with Mandodari who was a widow, expecting her first child, Bantukti. She left her daughter at home when her due-date came closer and went into a forest to deliver her baby.

“Mothers do not give birth in front of their children, according to our culture. We either head to the jungle or the hospital,” he said.

Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh were conducting Bhraman (a celestial walk to determine the fate of the world) in the forest at the same time. They morphed into sobbing newborns when they spotted Mandodari going into labor pain. She gave birth to three sons, although only one of them was born from her womb.

“In our tradition, we use fire to provide warmth to a newborn. This practice is known as ‘aag sekna’. We do it to keep the newborns warm as they remain inside the mother’s womb,” he explained.

After placing her babies on a large leaf, Mandodari leaves the hamlet to get fire. The children grew up exceptionally fast in absence of their mother. They were godly beings and dev-vansh (the generation of deities). The three young men start to speculate about their identities, clan affiliations, and possible names. When they discover that no one can respond to their inquiries, they mount horses and elephants and ride on toward the village. They encountered their mother en route, who was coming back with the fire.

Naturally, Mandodari was afraid of the encounter because she did not recognize the adults as her sons. She lights a lake on fire and dives in while acting as though she is using her saree to catch fish.

“Oh mother, come out of the lake!” exclaimed the three men, asking, “Who are you, who are we, and to which clan are we affiliated? Please tell us our names.”

Feeling relieved, Mandodari responded, “We belong to the lower castes of Dusadh and Musahars. Fishing is our primary job.”

She named her boys as Moti Ram, Raja Sahlesh, and Baua Bhuddheshwar, the youngest who was born from her womb.

The three men picked up swords (a weapon of their own caste) and set aside the high-caste bows and arrows they were carrying after discovering their true origins.

“We still use swords to fill in the sindoor (vermilion) of the bride in our weddings today,” he said.

Sushila Devi has been practicing the artform for the past 26 years.
Punjab’s 'Donkey Flights' to the World's Conflict Zones

You can also join our WhatsApp group to get premium and selected news of The Mooknayak on WhatsApp. Click here to join the WhatsApp group.

Related Stories

No stories found.
The Mooknayak English - Voice Of The Voiceless