Uttarakhand girl revives traditional Himalayan artform Aipan, creates jobs

Updated on Nov 23, 2020 11:58 PM IST

Aipan is a folk design art form, drawn by women in red and white colour outside their homes on auspicious occasions like weddings, house-warming, festivals. Every occasion of event, has a different form of design in Aipan.

Minakshi Khati designing a poster following the Aipan art form in Nainital district.(HT PHOTO.)
Minakshi Khati designing a poster following the Aipan art form in Nainital district.(HT PHOTO.)
Hindustan Times, Suparna Roy | BySuparna Roy

Using social media and following the motto of self-reliant India, a 22-year-old girl from Nainital has been constantly working to revive the traditional Kumaoni artform of Aipan in the Himalayan state.

Minakshi Khati, the 22-year-old from Nainital district has fondly come to be known as the Aipan girl of Kumaon, for continuously working to revive the old art form of Uttarakhand.

Aipan is a folk design art form, drawn by women in red and white colour outside their homes on auspicious occasions like weddings, house-warming, festivals. Every occasion of event, has a different form of design in Aipan.

Speaking on how she started her journey towards building Minakrti: The Aipan Project, an initiative to promote the art form by empowering local women and artists, Khati said, “Since childhood, I have been practicing Aipan with my mother and grandmother. As I grew, I noticed that people have stopped practicing the art form due to work or other responsibilities but they wish that they could. This gave me the idea of starting something which will help people feel close to home and I started making home décor or other small items practicing the Aipan art.”

Starting from keychains, nameplates, wall paintings, tea cups, Khati has been continuously experimenting with the art form and started selling it.

In December 2019, Khati started Minakrti: The Aipan Project, and in a year’s time she has delivered over 1000 orders, mostly to people who live in other states or countries. She further added that most of her orders are from people living in Delhi or other metropolitan cities, who have migrated from their villages.

Marketing her items through social media, she now takes orders in bulk and collaborates with women from villages in Nainital, giving them an employment opportunity.

“In the hilly regions, almost every house has a female member who knows how to make an Aipan. We collaborate with these women to deliver bulk orders on time to our clients. At present, we have a team of 15 members, including students who have come forward and shown interest. I am able to earn around Rs 30,000- Rs 35,000 a month through which the students and the women who help us are paid, but we are growing gradually,” added Khati.

She has also started a competition named “Selfie with Aipan” to promote the art form among youth, “which has received good response”.

Khati has also showcased her artwork at national level tourism fairs, participating in the Uttarakhand Tourism Festival in New Delhi last year.

Beena Bhatt, director for department of culture in Uttarakhand said, “Aipan is a very old traditional art form of Kumaon region in Uttarakhand. We have seen Khati’s work and how she has been continuously working to promote this folk art. The department also holds regular workshops for women to train them in the art form and inform them on how to take up self-employment through it.”

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