KOTA A dying art, Mandana painting, drawn on mud walls and floors, is still an integral part of Diwali celebrations in Rajasthan. Mandana paintings welcome gods into the homes and mark celebrations on festive occasions. Women in rural Rajasthan decorate every part of their homes on auspicious occasions like Diwali with them.Wildlife and culture enthusiast, Tapeshwar Singh Bhati, who recently visited villages to photograph the paintings, said that geometric motifs and patterns are painted on floors. “Representative forms of animals, birds, plants, flowers and creepers are painted. Although modern houses are fast replacing mud houses in rural areas, Mandana can still be seen on festivals like Diwali,” he said.Kajodi, a native of Soonthara village in Tonk district, who makes Mandana paintings, said that the paintings are images of animals such as tiger, leopard, monkey, wolf, rabbit and others.Another Mandana maker, Raja Bai from Fatehganj village in Tonk district, said that paintings of peacocks, sparrows, parrots, snakes, lizards, women, bullock, motor car, camel cart, bicycle, and various forms of flora are represented in the art form.HT PhotoMandanas are mostly made by the Meena community and other agrarian communities, including Gujjars, Dalits, Mali (gardener) and others in Rajasthan.Nowadays, mostly elderly or middle-aged women are seen making Mandanas.Barji Bai, who is in her 20s from Soonthara village, said that these days young women are not interested in making Mandanas as it’s a time-consuming job.Dr Madan Meena, who has done a Ph.D on the Mandana art form in 2007, said that these paintings expressive love and compassion for nature and are also decorative and auspicious.“Till a couple of decades ago, Mandana art was seen in western Rajasthan, Jaipur, Ajmer and other parts of the state but now it is largely confined to the Nagarchal belt, which falls in three districts — Sawai Madhopur, Tonk and Bundi,” said Madan Meena.“Unlike Madhubani paintings of Bihar and Warli paintings of Maharashtra, which are now painted on canvas and paper instead of traditional medium like mud houses, Mandanas in Rajasthan are still fighting for their existence,” he said.The materials and tools used in creating Mandanas are procured from nature. The walls and floors of the houses often made of clay. Another layer of clay and a coating of red geru are put and then the Mandana is painted white chalk.The brushes are made using khajur or bamboo stick, reed grass or cotton.Mandanas are mostly made by the Meena community and other agrarian communities, including Gujjars, Dalits, Mali (gardener) and others in Rajasthan.Citing reasons for the decline of the tradition in the state, Madan Meena said that increase in employment and irrigation facilities, increased prosperity of the agrarian and rural communities and government schemes for up gradation of mud houses have led to the decline of the art form.