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  • Writer's pictureMeenakshi Raje

Manjusha Art - A tale of love and Sacrifice

Manjusha art,an unique and ancient folk art and a scintillating tale of love and sacrifice.

The tale is about worship of Goddesses named as "Bishahari"( one who takes out poison).It is a kind of here and say that,one day lord Shiva was bathing in a lake named Sonada and five of his hair strands fell.Those strands became five flowers of lotus and they requested the lord to accept them as his daughters.Lord shiva asked them to come into their true form.They changed into five sisters and lord accepted all of them as their Manasputri(daughters in human form).

From here there are different tales about how Goddess Parvati accepted them as their daughters and how they were being recognized as Goddesses on the Earth.

In Anga pradesh, now which is known as Bhagalpur it is also a folktale about Bihula who saved her husband from the wrath of Bishahari devis.This is actually the theme of this art came to be known as Manjusha art.

The literal meaning of 'Manjusha' is 'box'.In earlier times only two communities that are,Kumbhakar and Malakars were relatedto this art form.Kumbhakars design this paintings on thrir pots and Malakars on Manjushas or Boxes.

These boxes were basically made of Bamboo,Jute,Straw and paper.Devotees kept their ceremonia materials inside these boxes.

When we come to the painting,traditionally only three basic colours were used.

Pink,Green and Yellow which have their own significance.Pink denotes care,relation and victory where Light Green depicts Nature and Health.Dark Green depicts prosperity while Yellow colour means qualities such as Joy,fun,confidence ,optimism etc.

Borders of the image were made from green colour and then the colours were filled in it.

There were one or more borders.Each borders are of different types.

●Belpatra -Symbol of holy leaves Belpatra which is also related to lord Shiva.

●Lehariya - Symbol of waves of River.

●Mokha -Another type design and decoration.

●Tribhuj - Triangle symbols .

●Sarp ki Ladi -Patterns of snake.

For religious purposes when painting is done the artist prays and seek permission from deity bishahari to start painting.They make a pile of rice in the room.After that they place betel leaf and betel nut on top of the pile.They start their prayer and the moment the leaf slightly shifts or falls ,it us considered that the permission is granted by devi and now they can start their painting.

In traditional style any kind of measuring instruments are prohibited as artists thought that slight imperfection keep the art in its raw form.

The characters drawn in Manjusha paintings in distinctive manner.Letter X with raised limbs are used to depict human form.The main characters are depicted with big eyes with no ears.

There were 5 bishahari sisters and all of them are depicted in unique style.Jaya Bishahari holds a bow with Amrit Kalash in onw hand and snake in another,Padmavathi Bishahari holds lotus in one and a snake in her other hand,Mynah Bishahari has mynah in one hand and a snake in other,Dhotila Bishahari has rising sun in one hand and a snake in the other,Maya/Manasa Bishahari having snakes in both of her hands.

On 17th and 18th August of every year, the Bishahari pooja is organised.Kalash and Manjusha are made by Kumbhakars and Malakars respectively and decorated with Manjusha painting depicting these stories.At the end of this festivals ,the kalash and Manjusha are immersed in a lake.

The devotees believe that they will get strength and protection from Bishahahri devi and their husbands will be protected from snake biting.Bihula is also worshipped to gain her strength and long life of their husbands.

This art form got international recognition

in year 1931-48.Then ICS officer W.G Archer and his wife started taking interest in Manjusha Paintings . Archer put a collection and in the exhibition in the India Office Library (London) the fok Art was shown.

A committee of 11 people has been put together by the Government of Bihar. Out of which 4 artisans will be present to apply for a patent for the Manjusha art form. They are planning to patent it as a Bhagalpur folk art which is a way forward to restore our heritage ,to restore our culture.

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