Lack of business due to COVID-19, threatens the existence of Chitari artists

Anwesha Ghosh
Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Every year, before the monsoon we purchase wood of Rs 10 lakh and begin our work in full-fledge but due to the lockdown we haven’t even purchased 50 per cent as we don’t have money.

PANAJI: From time immemorial Goa’s traditional artisans from Cuncolim have been involved in Chitari artworks, paintings on wooden artefacts used especially during the Ganesh festival. But due to the lockdown they now see a bleak future ahead.
Pradeep K Chitari, who owns a Chitari workshop on the Cuncolim Highway, sighs in despair that the lockdown has brought his business into a complete stand still and fears that the worse is yet to come.

“We have already been struggling to survive our business which was started by my forefathers almost 120 years ago. Our specialisation is painting wooden item especially paat (wooden seat) and chaurang (low pedestal) which makes an integral part during the Ganesh festival rituals,” Pradeep said.

“But this year with no large scale celebrations we fear that how do we earn for our survival. Every year, before the monsoon we purchase wood of Rs 10 lakh and begin our work in full-fledge but due to the lockdown we haven’t even purchased 50 per cent as we don’t have money,” Pradeep sighed.
Expressing his anxiousness that he might have to face a bankruptcy like situation Pradeep said, “I have three workers who are totally dependent on me. At present, I a surviving on my savings but don’t know how long it will help me.”  
The business of Chitari artwork has already been going on in a sluggish pace since a long time. In an effort to revive Chitari and other Goan traditional artworks, Dr Sophia Rodrigues, gynaecologist at Manipal Hospital and an art lover herself, had organised an art exhibition whereby artefacts of these traditional artists, including Chitari were on display.
Speaking to GT, Dr Rodrigues said, “Chitari artwork has been on the verge of extinction and the lockdown has added more to the misery these artists. As an initiative to revive this artwork, we had suggested the artists to create these items on daily use like table mat, art-frame or posters. But things did not work as planned due to several factors.”
“In order to keep their business we had suggested to undertake marketing these artefacts through social media. Traditional arts of different States like Warli and Madhubani art forms from Maharashtra and Bihar respectively, have started promoting their artwork on social media which has helped them revive these dying art forms,” Dr Rodrigues opined.
When contacted, Art and Culture Minister Govind Gaude said, “In such trying times when every sector of the society is facing crisis, it is very difficult to announce any package for these artisans. Considering the financial status of the government it is not possible to announce any package for them,” he added.
“However, we are trying our level best and exploring the possibilities to rope in these artisans in government organised events,” Gaude added.

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