Along with entertaining passengers, the ongoing carnival is bringing to life the lesser known art, culture, and rich heritage from Maharashtra.
If you are travelling, and happen to spot a storyteller telling a tale that transports you to an imaginary world, or a bunch of traditionally dressed women presenting lavani or Bharuds, then don’t be surprised; It is just what the city’s international airport looks like these days.
The ongoing three-month-long cultural carnival titled Paaoolkhuna, Imprints of Maharashtra, organised by the Jaya He GVK New Museum at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, is intending to bring the portrayal of forgotten real-life observations into expressive art.
“The carnival is curated to bring to life the rich indigenous heritage and art from the state. Our aim is to bridge the gap between traditional Indian and contemporary art bringing it closer to our passengers,” says Rekha Nair, Airport services and museum director.
Started during the 2019 World Museum Day, the third edition of the carnival is set in line with the theme of the International Council of Museums — Museums as Cultural Hubs: The Future of Traditions. It celebrates the art, culture, heritage and food of Maharashtra, showcasing the grandeur of the state over the six decades. Divided into various segments, the event brings artisans from across the state to present the traditional art in a contemporary way, so that it can connect all the passengers at the terminal. “We want to engage the passengers and sensitise them to the culture and heritage of Maharashtra,” says the director.
Along with music, dance, and storytelling, the event has also brought calligraphy, textile and other handicraft artistes to showcase their skills. With huge 3D printing installations, traditional Maharashtrian art has been combined with technology under the one roof. “We are embracing technology by sitting under the banyan tree where the dialogue happens. We are trying to present the old tradition in new way without losing its essence for thousands of customers everyday,” Rekha adds.
Displaying their Ganjifa art, eighth generation artists Subhash Balu and Pandurang Dhuri from Sawantwadi, feel content with the response of the passengers. “It feels great and fulfilling that many passengers are stopping here and inquiring about our art,” says 72 year-old Subhash, and reveals that this is an exclusive art and it is on the verge of dying since they are the last generation to follow the art form.
Similarly, artist Maruri Bamane from Kolhapur can be seen making traditional Kolhapuri chappals and helping passengers to make a small sample for themselves. “They all embrace this. Ten minutes education about this culture goes very long with them. The international passengers stop to make one sample and take this back as a souvenir because they haven’t even heard of it. It’s helping reach my work to so many places,” shares the artist.
Taken by the interesting art display at the terminal, Mucash Siani a passenger travelling back to the United Kingdom too is not left untouched by the artisans’ magic. “It is very interesting to bring the culture of your region to the people. We don’t really get to see these arts on our visit to India so this is beautiful. India never misses on surprising with its art and culture,” expresses Mucash while talking to Ganjifa artists.
And while the carnival is wooing the passengers and giving opportunities to the artisans, it is also helping the airport staff to engage in some unwinding activities. “The local staff is thrilled to see this because most of them are Maharashtrians and they enjoy every activity,” says Rekha, revealing that they have also collaborated with various schools and colleges in the city to introduce these art forms to the students.