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Artist to chart new waters, in book

- Octogenarian comes a long way from scared girl to face of Mithila art
Godawari Dutta

Patna, March 15: Mithila artist Godawari Dutta has seen a lot of struggle in her 83 years but is far from being done.

Hard work, coupled with struggle, has brought Dutta success.

Among her accolades include being awarded the National Award in 1980 and conferred the title of “Shilp Guru” by President Pratibha Patil in 2006. Now, she is dedicated to keep on the tradition, inspiring the new generation to take forward the Mithila art.

Her journey with Mithila art started from a very tender age. Hailing from Darbhanga district’s Bahadurpur village, Dutta used to work on Mithila art in a clandestine manner from around the age of six. But surprisingly, Dutta was afraid she would be rebuked by her mother Subhadra Devi, also a Mithila artist.

Dutta said: “I was afraid that if my mother, who too was a great artist, would see painting and scold me. But when she saw me, she praised me a lot and said I would become a great artist some day. She encouraged me saying that I should not panic and should continue with my work.

“Mithila art is a traditional form. One acquires this art from ancestors. Usually, mothers pass on the tradition to their daughters so that in future they can paint if they need to,” she added.

Dutta lost her father when she was just 10 years old.

Her mother had a tough time bringing up her four children.

Later, Dutta got married in 1947 and soon gave birth to a son. But her husband left her to got o Nepal where he got married to someone else. Now, she lives in Madhubani district.

The artist has also to her credit the establishment of a Mithila museum in Japan. The project, for which Dutta travelled to the island nation, took around seven years to complete.

She said: “An artist from Japan used to take collections of Mithila paintings from us. He would take the paintings and organise exhibitions there. Impressed with the work, senior government officers asked him to take us to Japan where we could work on Mithila paintings. But he did not have enough money to take us there. So, instead, they collected money and arranged for our travel and lodging. I used to stay there for six months a year. It took us around seven years during which I visited the country seven times.”

Dutta, who has also been to Germany, now dreams of writing a book on the art form. She said: “Lots of things have to be done to keep the tradition alive and I want to remain healthy in order to do so. Mithila art is unique and the coming generation, too, should think about keeping it alive.”