The Dark Struggles of Madhubani’s Padmashri Painter
Ranti village in the Madhubani District of Bihar has already produced two Padma Shri Awardees and this is the third as Ms Dulari Devi is honoured by President Ramnath Kovind on the 72nd Republic Day.
The struggle starts very early, even before when the days of childhood bid farewell. Dulari, born in the Voyager caste never got a chance of attending a formal class of education. As her age turned 12, the little child was soon knotted with the responsibility of the wife. Now, she must sweep houses. A girl in the age when she was supposed to cultivate happiness of ‘Saheli’ and ‘bachpana’ is bounded by brooms.
She voices herself in her Autographical Drawings, ‘Following My Paint Brush’, a book by Gita Wolf. The thirty-two paged book starts with –“I am an artist, But I wasn’t always one.”
A few months passed after her wedding, and so did her husband. The widow stayed with the late Mushar Chieftain, the father of her maiden. She encountered the acclaimed artist Karpuri Devi. In her leisure hours, Dulari used to shape her home courtyard with clay.
She names Maha Sundari Devi as her inspiration to make paintings. And this became an important part of her life. She used to relive her every day by visualizing it as paintings. She learnt painting and her new life was about to begin.
Apart from being with the Padma Shree Honorary, she has been specially invited by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on the occasion of the inauguration of the Bihar Museum in Patna. With over 7000 paintings, some even featuring on homepages of IGNOU, she had been conferred the State Award in 2012.