India with 29 states and 7 union territories is a diverse country with myriad ethnic cultures and varieties unique to India’s diversity. Our five-thousand-year-old civilization has its share of complexities in the form of social issues and problems.
Incorporating art to raise awareness about the continuing social issues deep-rooted in religious practices and beliefs is a noble enterprise by “Bhuli” which means “Little Sister” in Garhwali.
A brainchild of fashion designer Tanya Kotnala and nutritionist Tanya Singh, Bhuli is the quintessential example of a platform using their innovative art to create a more humane ground.
Let’s look at how they are weaving stories of art developing new expressions for change in our current society.
Right To Education
The mural of Aanganwadi Didi with her kids By Bhuli focuses on creating interactive spaces for children to enroll in pre-schools.
Combating child illiteracy by instilling the need to invest in early education has been one of the basic healthcare activities that come under a typical Anganwadi center in rural areas.
An Anganwadi center was an initiative that was started by the Indian Government as a part of ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services) to fight child hunger and malnutrition. Early child education reduces the chances of low social and economic status faced by children that drive them astray.
The Chipko Movement
This piece of Bhuli art using Aipan chowki (Traditional art used to place gods in a Pahari household) signifies the role of villagers in bringing change through resistance during the Chipko Movement by sticking with each other.
Forest has been the main source of livelihood in the hills where agriculture is difficult.With the economy largely dependent on produce from the forest, the Chipko Movement gathered traction in April 1973 when the Indian Government allotted a plot of land area in the Alaknanda Valley to do sports goods.
This sparked a rage of fury among the protesters, particularly village women who were the first to save trees by hugging them.
The Chipko Movement had a pivotal rule in influencing the natural resource policy in India with slogans guarding the sensitive needs and ecological requirements,
“ What do the forests bear?
Soil, water and pure air.”
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The Himalayan Quail Extinction
This poster by Bhuli uses the local art form Aipan to raise awareness about the Himalayan Quail that has been on the brink of extinction due to excessive hunting during colonization. By the 1800’s, sightings were rare not going beyond 50.
With support from the Forest Department of Uttarakhand and WWF, there have been initiatives urging villagers to search for the lost species and protecting them.
The historic decision of Supreme Court to end Triple Talaq that exploited Muslim women excluding her economically, educationally and socially was a milestone in the success stories of our country.
With Shayara Bano contending the right of a Muslim man to declare divorce by uttering “talaq” three times, she made sure that no life ended for Muslim women in the future due to regressive practices in the light of principles of gender justice.
The Orange Gang
From what started as a mission to end the vicious cycle of poverty, the Orange Gang or “Durga Samuh” founded by Ms. Geeta Maurya enrolled 20 women who share the passion of cooking to empower themselves and improve their financial condition.
Today, the Orange gang runs two canteens in Government offices in addition to helping with packing and distribution of THM(Take Home Ration) for the Anganwadi centers that is bent to improve child nutrition for children below three years of age.
India’s thriving patriarchal society in the rural area where the final decision banks on a gender bias associated with men.
Women don’t realize the unforeseen repercussions of Manterruption which creates seething differences in the opportunities of men and women. It also mounts pressure on men of having burdened with responsibilities all the time.
The tradition of having a sister-in-law initiate breastfeeding in the family may seem like a bonding ceremony but the prevalent culture in Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh misses a crucial point.
The first milk a child should have is his mother’s as it provides immunity against further diseases by supplying the necessary antibodies.
Imagining Safe Spaces For Women
The concept of “ Space Bhuli” above is a platform for women to speak their minds without any impending fear of being the butt of any joke or questioning the dictates of the society.
The poster accommodates female leaders who have been the force behind movements empowering women with skills, power, and knowledge by incorporating them into the mainstream society.
Cultivating change in the form of small steps even if it’s some mini wall art or intricate handloom work counts.
Bhuli is the embodiment of such small things that are bound to have a huge impact.
Image Credits: From Instagram page @bhuli.art