By Sucharita Sahoo
Raghurajpur, it’s a dream destination for art lovers. The entire village is like an open museum of art and craft. There are more than hundred families living in this village and majority of them are into some kind of handicraft work. The artisans here create magic with their skilled hands on pieces of cloth, paper and palm leaves. The small village is situated in Puri district of Odisha. The village is surrounded by palm, mango, coconut and other tropical trees along with betel leaf gardens. But Raghurajpur has its own identity it depicts the rich tradition of Odisha’s art and craft.
Raghurajpur is famous for Pattachitra. In Odia language ‘Patta’ means canvas and ‘chitra’ means picture. This is made on ‘Pati’ a handmade canvas prepared by pasting together layers of cloth. The artisans use handmade natural colour for the paintings. The tradition of Pattachitra painting in Odisha is very old. The theme of Pattachitra are mostly mythological, religious stories. The stories are painted by the artisans in such a way that by reading the pictures in sequence you can understand the story. Pattachitra’s have mainly the design of Lord Sri Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra. In Raghurajpur each house tells a new story the walls of the houses were painted with chitrakari. Among other art forms stone carving, paper made toys, tusser paintings, wood carvings, painting on palm leaves are prepared by the artists, and this is the main source of livelihood for the villagers. Each family in Raghurajpur is engaged in preparing some kind of handicraft. Even small children of the age of seven, eight make patta paintings on their own. The artisans sell their product through different NGO’s in market. Many NGO’s in the village are engaged in promotion, training and marketing of the craft products. The artists from this village also participate in various fairs and exhibition in the state and outside the state.
Raghurajpur is also famous for Gotipua dance the earlier form of Odishi. Late Padmabibhusana Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra (The renowned Odishi dance guru) was born in this village. In Gotipua dance adolescents boys dressed in girls attire and perform gotipua dance. The dancers from this village are now performing at both national and international events.
Visitors including foreigners visiting the village round the year is the unique sight of Raghurajpur. Tourists come from countries like USA, UK, China, Nepal, Japan, Italy along with the inland tourists. It offers a glimpses of the rich art and craft of Odisha to the tourists. By showcasing their handicrafts the artisans became self dependent they don’t need to leave their home in search of job. This village has emerged as one of the ideal type of rural tourism spot. Perhaps nowhere in India one can find so many art products in one village.