A group of heritage enthusiasts walked around the narrow lanes of Garanhata in north Kolkata on Saturday afternoon, watching the artisans in the jewellery hub at work. The 21 participants had registered for the first-of-its-kind festival of art and heritage, The City as Museum. It was held by DAG Museums, the curator of museum-exhibition Ghare Baire that showcased 200 years of art in Bengal, in the 188-year-old recently restored Currency Building.
The last day of the heritage walk coincided with the conclusion of Ghare Baire, which registered a high turnout this weekend, with at least 2,000 art lovers dropping by Currency Building to see the collection of Bengal art, supposedly the largest on public display anywhere in the world, The exhibition had been on since January 11, 2020, though it did see a few shutdowns due to the pandemic. Sumona Chakravarty, deputy director, Ghare Baire, DAG Museums, said, “While we celebrated the success of ‘The City as a Museum’, the mood was bittersweet for our team as Kolkatans streamed in to give the Ghare Baire museum-exhibition a grand send-off. As our social media pinged with ‘one last time’ messages, images from the festival gave us hope that the museum extends far beyond the walls of the Currency Building and that our work is just beginning.”
The Chitpore walk, held in collaboration with Hamdasti and led by art historian Paula Sengupta, was a visual treat for the participants, one as young as 10 years old. Crowns, bangles and neck-pieces at every shop glittered in the mellow winter sun as the participants took turns to check out the manufacure process. Artisans showed their catalogues, each page flaunting a design with the common promotional line, ‘thokai hoy o dice pawa jae’. The phrase described the process of dice-making.
As they walked down Rabindra Sarani, crossing the jatra para, litho printing and woodblock shops and Jorashano Thakurbari’s gate, some enthusiasts wondered why the museum-exhibition had come to an end only to be offered the official comment about the expired contract.
The walk meandered through the lanes to reach Radha Krishna temple, known as the ‘Bat-tala mandir’ whose ‘chatal’ was the “birthplace” of the popular Bat-tala literature. The group then walked down the congested lanes near Nakhoda Masjid, where once lived the iconic Gauhar Jaan. The festival concluded on Sunday with a walk in Metizbruz, exploring the exiled kingdom of Awadh’s lasting influence on Bengal’s art and culture.
Source: Times of India