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Odisha lecturer discovering dying crafts, one village at a time

Having an inclination towards art and culture of Western Odisha, 28-year-old Rajat began his documentation drive with traditional musical instruments in 2012 when he was in college.

Published: 03rd October 2021 03:44 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd October 2021 08:00 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

NUAPADA:  Rajat Kumar Panigrahi’s quest for the dying art and crafts of Western Odisha is never ending. In the last nine years, this lecturer of Nuapada district has travelled to nearly 1,000 villages in the region. And along the journey, Rajat has documented a number of crafts and traditional artisans, creating an online repository ‘Matir Kala’ that can be used for reference by the future generations.

Having an inclination towards art and culture of Western Odisha, 28-year-old Rajat began his documentation drive with traditional musical instruments in 2012 when he was in college. He visited villages in Nuapada in search of the instruments during weekends and found many. 

Rajat Panigrahi with an artiste I Express

“These instruments were used in social and cultural events but people who played them had given up on the vocation because it did not help them make ends meet. I tried helping them by looking for potential buyers for the musical instruments and got many art enthusiasts to procure them”, he recalled.

Encouraged with the response, Rajat decided to explore Kalahandi, Balangir and Sonepur to discover rare art forms and artefacts. Two years later, he joined a college as lecturer in zoology but continued his endeavour. Over the years, he came across various performing art forms and collected old wood carvings from Kalahandi, bamboo craft from Nuapada besides, traditional instruments, handicrafts and terracotta pieces from other parts of the region.

Feeling the need to document his findings, Rajat started his YouTube channel ‘Matir Kala’ in 2017. Helping him in the documentation drive is his cousin Satya Panigrahi and friend Ganesh Pradhan who assist him in recording and editing the videos respectively. He has not only been making videos on art forms and handicrafts but also interviewing the artistes.

Currently, he works as a lecturer in the Yuvodaya College in Balangir and makes it a point to explore a new village of Western Odisha at least twice in a week. Some of his major documentations include, folk culture of Chuktia Bhunjia tribe of Nuapada, Debguru folk tradition of Balangir, folk instrument makers of Nuapada, Sonepur and Balangir; Dalkhai folk tradition of Bargarh; folk traditions of Dongria Kandha in Kalahandi; Dhunkel instrument, Kisan folk dance in Sambalpur, Sarangi and Ghudka folk instruments in Balangir, Kahalandi’s Ghumra dance, Chhatar Jatra of Bijaygarh (Raj Komna) in Naupada, Bargarh Ikat and puppet dance of Nuapada.

Rajat’s YouTube videos are being used by students for research and he is soon planning to launch a lecture series on various topics related to art and culture. Besides, he is developing a museum at his home to showcase traditional musical instruments, many of which are rare to find today.

A lecturer is travelling the length and breadth of Western Odisha to find out rare crafts and art forms. He documents them on his YouTube channel ‘Matir Kala’. Mayank Bhusan Pani explores his journey



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