SANJAY MANNU BHAI CHITARA
Ahmedabad-based Sanjay Manubhai Chitara and his family have been upholding the tradition of painting the Mata ni Pachedi (Cloth of Mother Goddess) for more than 10 decades. Derived from the Kalamkari style of paintings, the method involves drawing on a cotton cloth with a stick made from a date plant using natural dyes. The motif of an austere goddess is usually at the centre, with details of mountains, animals, trees, rivers and natural flora and fauna immersed in it. Originally, the cloth composed of only two colours – red and black, and was hung behind the holy idol of the goddess. Today, a Mata ni Pachedi painting has become a collector’s delight for display, and fashioned in many-hued variants. Chitara and his kin are among the five families in the Vaghiri, or Devi Pujak, clan to practice this art form, which has been passed down the generations for 300 years. The colour mediums in painting this work of art are all natural and made from natural products. Yellow is derived from mango or turmeric, orange from the henna plant, blue from indigo, black from iron water and so on, through a carefully designed, meticulous process. Black and brown are prominent colours. All colours have a symbolic religious significance. The process involves treatment of the cloth and application of different colours in different stages and is a long and detailed one. Chitara was awarded the National Award in 2000, while his brother Vasant received it in 2001 and their parents Manubhai Chunilal and Manjuben Manubhai jointly in 2004. Chitara and his family have also been the recipients of several state awards."