3 months ago

Srijani Shilpagram: A cultural hub of Santiniketan

Folk songs in Shilpagram
Folk songs in Shilpagram

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Srijani Shilpagram is situated in Santiniketan. A village, an entire collection of artworks, is not an actual village itself, though it has the word 'gram' in it. This locality has been brewed up to keep the rural vibe alive. But it can be labelled as an ideal village, including diversity, trade, vibrant local life, and cultural scenarios. The West Bengal government introduced the whole story in 2008. 

Shilpagram covers over 26 bighas of land and includes nine museums built in the shape of nine traditional huts of the EZCC (Eastern Zonal Cultural Center) member states. It may also be called a beautiful rainbow of seven different state arts, including Bengal, Bihar, Urissha, and the rest, as the dramas of Sirajuddoula would say. 

Delicious food

The entrance gate is pretty close to the famous Sonajhuri haat area. One can find some sweet rabri (a local dairy sweet) and earthen decor items outside the gate. Some savory-salty Aam pora (a raw mango drink) can take away all the sun's scorching heat and dehydrate the soul just before entering a cultural hub called Srijani Shilpagram. 

The entrance gate is also similar to the other parts of it. It includes intricate mythological earthen artworks crafted very harmonically in the pillars. A dancing nortoki (ancient word for a dancer) with her immensely articulated dance pose, some scenes from the Puranas, and a romantic moment of Radha-Krishna would welcome any stranger to the memorabilia of this place. And just when you have passed the doorway, there is music in the wind. The breezes take a musical form and hum into the ears of a tiresome traveller. As if it said that here you can rest, here you can rest your heart and just emerge into the music. 

Folk singers are here and there in Shilpagram. They have made their place under a bamboo bash. The smile in their eyes gives solace along with the music they play–  

"Kichudin mone mone

Ghorer kone–

Shaym er pirit rakh gopone,

Kichudin mone mone!" 

After listening to these Birbangshi Bauls, one can remember the magic of music once again and wonder if music is the language of love and separation, life and alienation. 

An eternal connection

Like music, Shilpagram is versatile and has its form. It is a one-stop station for shopping, wandering around, mingling with the locals, listening to restful music, and getting lost in the soulful artworks everywhere.  

The courtyard of Shilpagram has a soothing, hand-painted formation with a yellowish tone. In the corner of its courtyard, a Putul Ghor (doll's house) is a serene home of some inanimate dolls who speak with their silence. There is no need to talk, no need to communicate, but there will be a vibe of connection. Narasingha, the Avatar of Vishnu, rural puppets, and Kothakoli characters hang on the walls of Putul Ghor. They are like shadows from the outside world. This one does not seem very taken care of like others, but it is an enriched part of Shilpgram. 

Crafts and sculptures

The craft stalls include more than ten shops where locals sell artworks, clothes, decor items, jewellery, etc. The craft stalls are enriched and affordable, so a cost-friendly tour can include some shopping in case they missed the Sonajhuri Haat! 

Shoppers are also lovely and warm people who will not hover around you to buy a product. They will just let you window-shop as much as you want.  

The sculpture garden includes various statues standing in a line, creating harmony between them. Somewhere, you can find Monjushree with their age-old poise and Buddha with his calm and quiet asana. Wooden sculptures are also a big part of this area, where you can see a wheel of carriage just as we imagined while reading the Mahabharata or Ramayana. It seems as if the relics of these epics have taken a stand at this place, refining the essence of ancient times into this modern day. Bearers are ready with a palki on their shoulders. A newly married village bride peeks from the windows– it all sets a perfect rural vibe, something that we have left behind. 

Just after you have crossed the sculpture garden, a surprise awaits. Some Santali women are dancing with their rhythm. The cheerful fragrance of this group dance would be more enjoyable when some insist you join them in the words of 'Kukkuruku, Kukkuruku!' It's just a matter of time before the legs know the steps, and the face will be delighted with a heartfelt smile. These are the natural gifts Srijani Shilpagram gives visitors– some wholesome moments to cherish for a long time. Not only how this place is decorated but also how the place resonates is essential. Because it is not the decors that build a place, but the people who make it a village– a home for inclusive culture. 

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