Art and Culture Current Affairs - 2019

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Walmiki and Malhar: 2 unknown languages discovered

Linguist from University of Hyderabad have discovered two endangered languages Walmiki and Malhar predominantly spoken in remote regions of Odisha. They were discovered by Prof Panchanan Mohanty as part of activity of Centre for Endangered Languages and Mother Tongue Studies. The professor had collected some data and did preliminary analysis of these languages and published paper in proceedings of XX Annual Conference of Foundation for Endangered Languages, UK.

Key Facts

Walmiki: It is spoken in district of Koraput of Odisha and on bordering districts of Andhra Pradesh. It is an isolate language and does not belonged to particular family of languages. Its name is interesting and indicative as speech of the community claims to be descent from great Indian saint-poet Valmiki, who is credited to have written one version of epic Ramayana.

Malhar: It is spoken in a remote and isolated hamlet about 165 km away from Bhubaneswar, Odisha.  Now it is spoken by community consisting of about 75 speakers including children. It belongs to “North Dravidian subgroup of Dravidian family of languages. It has close affinities with other North Dravidian languages like Malto and Kurux spoken in Jharkhand, West Bengal and Bihar.

Background

India has been termed sociolinguistic giant and linguists paradise by various scholars across the world.  Though Central government has made effort to document endangered tribal and minor languages, there are many languages which are unknown to world and are waiting to be discovered and documented.

Madhubani railway station in Bihar gets makeover with Mithila paintings

Madhubani railway station got complete makeover with Mithila paintings. The makeover project was unique initiative of Indian Railways to experiment with local artists voluntarily painting works in short span of two months. More than 225 artists, 80% of them women, volunteered to paint station free of cost. The total wall area of railway station covering area more than 14,000 sq ft has been fully painted with various themes under traditional Mithila painting style.

Mithila painting

Mithila painting is folk painting practiced in Mithila region of India (especially Bihar) and Nepal. It is also known as Madhubani paintings which mean ‘forest of honey’. It has been mentioned in ancient Indian texts like Ramayana.

It originated in small village known as Maithili in Bihar. Initially, women from village drew paintings on freshly plastered mud walls of their home as illustration of their thoughts, hopes and dreams using fingers and twigs forming two dimensional imagery using paste of powdered rice. With time, it became part of festivities and special events like marriage. It was made from paste of powdered rice. It also used colours derived from vegetables and plants. Now they are also painted on cloth, handmade paper and canvas.

The central themes of Mithila paintings are based on Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Its main theme is supported by traditional geometric patterns. Some of main attributes of these paintings are double line border, abstract-like figures of deities, ornate floral patterns, bold use of colours and bulging eyes and jolting nose of faces of figures.

The various styles of Mithila painting include Bharni, Tantrik, Katchni, Godna, and Kohbar, which were historically painted only by women from the upper strata in caste system, who used to make them on mud walls on special occasions.

Mithila painting has been accorded the coveted GI (geographical Indication) status as it has remained confined to compact geographical area and skills have been passed on through centuries, but content and the style have largely remained same.