Mumbai’s Garhwalis keep fading art forms alive
There was a time when Garhwali residents of Uttarakhand used to make their own butter from the Chyura or the Indian butter tree, create artefacts out of bamboo, wax, pinewood, and had even gifted former president Pratibha Patil locally-churned ghee on her visit to the state once.
However, according to a senior member of the community in Mumbai, which has a large presence of Garhwalis, there has been a decline in the number of the traditionally-made products and the different art forms are dying out. The reason? Shardul Nautiyal, a media person from Mumbai, says, “The old craftsmen have passed away and the younger generation doesn’t have the expertise or are unaware of their traditions.”
This is what prompted BP Nautiyal, a former employee of National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development, to author the coffee-table book Shilpiiy, along with three others, including Shardul, to document the dying art forms and traditions of the community and the region for the past 25 years. “With its natural resources, Uttarakhand produces 1,200 unique items. Now, with increasing accessibility to the hilly villages, it is the right time to let the world know about the specialities of our region,” says Nautiyal.
The book, released last month, documents the making of various products using wood, stone, ringal bamboo, rudraksha and beet besides traditional sweets of the Garhwalis. “I believe this book would reveal to the world the different practices of the community. We would be able to set up a market for these products in Mumbai,” said Shardul.
Keshar Singh Bisht, a member of Kauthig Foundation, which works with the Garhwali and Kumaon communities, says that over the past few years, several events have been organised to get the community members together in the city. “There is a 10-day event organised every year, where around 250 artisans from Uttarakhand visit the city to display their works. One of the primary motives is to inform the younger generation about our art and culture,” says Bisht.