Raas Mela or the Raas fair is a grand celebration dedicated to the deity Madan Mohan of Cooch Behar. In fact, its grandness makes it a festival and is basically observed during the month of November according to English calendar and in the month of Kartik as per Bengali calendar. It is one of the most popular festivals of Cooch Behar which attracts people from in and around the district and also from the neighboring state of Assam. It is conducted on the Parade Ground by the local municipal corporation and holds a special significance for the people of Cooch Behar.
Tussar Silk is produced from silkworms. It is also known as Tusser, Tushar and Tussah and the sarees made from this particular silk is very popular in India. Its popularity is due to the gold sheen and has shorter fibres. It is the chosen material for saris and also punjabis for Indian men. The gold sheen makes it appear rich textured and also shimmering. Bulk production is Tussar silk is done in India out of which around 40% is from West Bengal. The tussar silk sarees produced in Bankura are famous for their kantha stitch which is a particular type of stitching process done by hand instead of machines. Kantha stitched silk sarees are quite expensive and exquisite. Tussar silk sarees are available in various beautiful colors. Tussar silk is also used to make punjabis for men and salwar suits for ladies. These traditional apparels also appear beautiful made from this silk. Producing Tussar silk is considered to be a cottage industry in Bankura where a large number of handlooms are found. This is a tradition of Bankura and thus the weavers still maintain the conventional handloom process to produce the silk sarees. Tussar Silk is also known by another name which is Kosa Silk. Tussar Silk clothes are exported to Gulf countries, to the USA and also various European countries.
Some of the characteristic features of Tussar Silk are:
- Various natural shades
- Light and airy
- Provides a comfortable and cool feeling
- Rich coarse texture
- Delicate in nature
Maintaining Tussar Silk
Maintaining tussar silk clothes takes a little caring. Dry washing the clothes is the safest option so that it retains its natural texture. You can also use cold water for clothes other than sarees to wash off the dirt. But remember to wash it with gentle hands since it’s delicate. Avoid using chemical bleach and never dry in directly under the sun. Silk needs to breathe and hence you must not store in inside paper. Fold it nicely and store it. Some of the most popular colors in tussar silk are magenta, red, turquoise, gold, dark teal, ultramine, chocolate and purple.
The Bishnupur region in Bankura is famous for producing Baluchari sarees that are made from tussar silk with particular types distinct of patterns on them. Woven on Jacquard punch-card looms, the Baluchari sarees have pallus and borders with episodes from Mahabharata woven on them. These exclusive sarees woven by the weavers are beautiful specimens of traditional art. However, making Baluchari sarees entail a lengthy process. The silk strands are separately dyed and put in a loom after which punch cards hanging from the upper part of the loom are used to make the designs on the strands. The punch cards shave holes in them and are rectangular in shape with various designs on them. The dyed strands are made to pass through these holes and accumulate into precise forms on the loom making some of the most desirable sarees made from silk.
Image Source: Flickr
Murshidabad is a tourist destination of great historical significance. Once the seat of the Nawabs of West Bengal, Murshidabad still has that old charm and grandeur. Art and craft in Murshidabad is an integral part of the lives of the residents. The craftsmen of this district of Bengal are extremely skilled and different types of art and craft is practiced in the region.
Ivory and wood Craft
The first is the Ivory and wood craft which spans throughout Murshidabad and is considered to be an industry employing a large number of the residents. This craft dates back to the time of Nawabs in Bengal where the courts used to be beautifully embellished with ivory and wood items. In those times this industry ran under the patronization of the Nawabs and also the noblemen of the court. In the past the carvers of Murshidabad were deemed to be the best with masterpieces that were displayed in the museums across the world. The industry has however faced decline over the last few decades. You can still find some nicely carved objects near Khagra bazaar.
The Sholapith or the Indian cork craft has sustained in Murshidabad and you will get some excellent pieces of art on the items made from shola. Sholapith is basically sponge-wood milky white in color. It is soft and delicate in nature. Beautiful items are made from this wood which has a diameter of 1.5 inches and grows in the marsh lands of Murshidabad. Sholapith is extremely malleable, spongy and light. Its brilliant luster and texture makes it perfect for lovely handicraft items to enhance your home décor. This wood is specially used for making the head gear of the Bengali brides during wedding ceremonies. However, the best specimens of sholapith items can be seen during Durga Puja, one of the most elaborate ceremonies of the Bengalis where the Goddess appears beautiful with sholapith huge backdrops and also with sholapith jewelry items. All these pieces are carefully strewn by the craftsmen with intricate designs on them. Every piece appears special. Floral motifs are popular among the sholapith designs. Peacocok boats, palanquins and garlands are also common.
Bell metal or Kansa
Bell metal works or Kansa as the Bengalis refer to it is another popular craft practiced by the skilled craftsmen of Murshidabad. It is a traditional craft basically used to make utensils and are manufactured in large quantities in Kandi, Baranagar, Berhampore and Khagra. Iron chests, betelnut cutters and locks of superlative quality are also manufactured in these areas. There is a tradition of giving bell metal utensils as gifts to a bride during wedding. It is considered to be auspicious.
Production of murshidabad silk and making sarees and other silk garments is a huge industry in Murshidabad. The clothes especially sarees are in high demand in the local, national and also international markets. The Baluchar town in Murchidabad produces the famous Baluchari sarees which are gorgeous to look at. Rich in composition, these sarees have silk brocaded designs on a silk base with lovely colors. Floral motifs along with scenes from daily life are popular and also colors like scarlet, green, yellow and blue are preferred by women. Know More →
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Pallab Seth, Jyoti Prakash Bhattacharjee, Viejito, Srikanth S
The handmade artifacts of Bishnupur in Bankura are quite famous all over the world. Terracotta is the raw material with which the highly skilled craftsmen of Bishnupur create various artifacts which are magnificent in design and flawless in their shape.
Terracotta potteries and artifacts are Bengal’s wealth and have a long and glorious history. The theme of the artifact is usually a folk one and quite explicit in its execution. The clay used to make all the handcrafted items is gathered from the river beds, ditches and pits. Usually 2-3 types of clays are mixed to form an alloy to make the world class artifacts appreciated by people. The craftsmen still use the traditional form of kilns to bake the clay pots using firewood, dry leaves and twigs. The pots are baked at a temperature of 700-800 degree Celsius. Not only men but the women also help in creating these beautiful objects. The women potters generally work on the wheels to give the pots their round neck on the upper halves. These round necks are perfect in shape. The potters also make clay dolls and other toys for children. Most of these toys and dolls are cast in burnt clay moulds which are typical of Bishnupur. Not only toys and pots, they also make animal figures, wind chimes and jewelry items from burnt clay or terracotta which is quite famous. The terracotta horse structures are treasured by tourists.
Dokra Metal Casting
Dokra metal casting is another interesting form of craft practiced by the tribes of Bishnupur who are known as the Dokra Damar. This eponymous crafting technique is basically done with wax and the items created have a lovely hue and texture. The process of Dokra casting is also referred to as ‘cire perdue’ technique or lost wax casting process. Dokra items have clay as their core material over which wax is coated. After the wax coating, a clay paste coating is applied on the model and dried for some time. The traditional hollow casting method is followed by which wax is replaced by another molten metal; in this case it is usually brass. A number of objects are made from dokra which include cutlery, jewelry items, lamp, chains, religious symbols, bells and many more. People who love tribal designs buy dokra objects to beautify their homes. Dokra jewelries are also popular among women. The art of okra is a surviving legacy of the region.
Handcrafted silverware is also hallmark of Bishnupur, Bankura tradition of handicrafts. The art of making silver items is quite old in the region with many skilled craftsmen practicing it. Silver enameling is done on various figures of home décor to enhance the appearance and add to their charm. Filigree designs on silverware can be found in abundance in the region. The objects comprising of these designs look outstanding and delicate. Then there are items made from silver. Various figures, jewelry items, utensils are made from silver which are embellished with beautiful designs making them appear unparallel in their beauty. These can be the perfect gifts for special occasions.
Tussar Silk is produced from silkworms. It is also known as Tusser, Tushar and Tussah and the sarees made from this particular silk is very popular in India. Its popularity is due to the gold sheen and has shorter fibres. It is the chosen material for saris and also punjabis for Indian men. The gold sheen makes it appear rich textured and also shimmering. Bulk production is Tussar silk is done in India out of which around 40% is from West Bengal. The tussar silk sarees produced in Bankura are famous for their kantha stitch which is a particular type of stitching process done by hand instead of machines. Kantha stitched silk sarees are quite expensive and exquisite. Tussar silk sarees are available in various beautiful colors. Tussar silk is also used to make punjabis for men and salwar suits for ladies. These traditional apparels also appear beautiful made from this silk. Producing Tussar silk is considered to be a cottage industry in Bankura where a large number of handlooms are found. This is a tradition of Bankura and thus the weavers still maintain the conventional handloom process to produce the silk sarees. Tussar Silk is also known by another name which is Kosa Silk. Tussar Silk clothes are exported to Gulf countries, to the USA and also various European countries. Know More →
Chhander Gram is situated in Beliatore at 21 kilometers from the north-east direction of the bus route to Bankura-Durgapur and Bardhaman. Chhander Gram primarily derives its significance by being the birthplace of famous Indian painter Jamini Roy (1887-1972), who has also been awarded with the prestigious Padma Bhushan in the year 1955. Ramkinkar Beij, one of the pioneers of modern Indian sculpture was born in Jogipara (or Yogipara) of Bankura. The legendary Bengali novelist, Shamaresh Basu had documented the life of Ramkinkar Beij in his novel “Dekhi Nai Phire” (meaning Haven’t Looked Back).
The court poets and artists of the Malla kings used to live here. It is believed that the village “Chhanda” derives its name from these “Chhandakars” (meaning poets or artists in Bengali). However, there are conflicting views regarding the origin of the name as well. Some opine that the name is taken from “Chandrahaar”.
Utpal Chakravarty— a professor in the 1970s, with the help of the local organization, had initiated the creation of a place which is filled with the fond memories of the artists mentioned above. In order to inspire folk art and make the tourists aware of the iconic creations of Roy and Beij, they have helped in the creation of permanent folk arts fair. Set amidst the backdrop of clear blue skies atop the red clay, this fair is your quintessential taste of the rural purity. While the walls are adorned with careless brush strokes, there are intricate designs gracing the floor.
Visit the artistic zone set amidst the forestry area situated at a walking distance from the Chaander bus stand. Adorned with beautiful sculpture and decorative paintings (alpona in Bengali) is “Khiroprasad Vidyavinodh Manch”. The statues of Jamini Roy and Ramkinkar Beij adorn an area, situated a bit far from it. Just below these statues are the Ram Kinkar Bhavan and Jamini Roy Bhavan with collections of folk arts and expressionist arts.
Where to stay
You can visit the famous Beliatore – 3 kms away as well. You can take an auto or rickshaw to take a round of this place while on your way to Beliatore. You can stay at the “Bon Bungalow” of Beliatore. Beliatore is a census town in the Bankura district in West Bengal with a sparse population of 6,463, as per 2011 census (with 51% males and 49% females). Make sure that you aren’t giving this iconic place a miss while on your visit to Bankura.
In order to book the bungalow you can contact or get in touch with the DFO of the northern Division. Here are the details:
DFO- North Division
Located in the Bankura district in West Bengal, Bishnupur is also known as Vishnupur. This town is situated in what was previously known as Rarh and is well known for its terracotta temples and a culinary delight named postor bora.
Tourist Locations at Bishnupur
Jorbangla Temple: Jorebangla Temple of Keshto Rai was erected during the 17th century by Raghunath Singha Dev II, who happened to be a local monarch. The roof of this temple is built in the chala style, which is a classical and eminently identifiable tradition of Bengali architecture. The temple also features terracotta carvings that can be described as elaborate.
Shyamrai Temple: Pancha Ratna Temple of Shyam Rai was also built by King Raghunath Singha during 1643. The walls in this temple also have the usual terracotta carvings and depict various incidents from the life of Krishna. This is also one of the bigger temples in Bishnupur. Continue reading
Chau dance is a famous folk dance performed by the tribals of Purulia. It belongs to a genre of martial dance. A chau dancer wears colorful masks and these ‘Chau Masks’ are masterpieces created by the skilled artisans of Charida Village. Snuggled in a corner Charida is quaint little village and is an arty nook worth visiting in Purulia.
Purulia is culturally the richest district in West Bengal. The Chau dance still remains the main attraction of the Spring Festival also known as the Chaitra Porob held here. Though the festival lasts for about 13 days the tribal dancers practice it throughout the year. Chau dancers mostly come from the families of traditional artists and local communities. A lot of physical strength and agility is required for this form of dancing. Dancers are trained in this form from a very young age. Continue reading