History & Culture

When Chitari comes alive in Goa

The traditional Chitari design motif of two parakeets or two flowers has remained unchanged down the ages.

The traditional Chitari design motif of two parakeets or two flowers has remained unchanged down the ages.   | Photo Credit: Arti Das

A week before Ganesh Chaturthi, a tiny village in Goa starts making wooden toys and other artefacts

On Janmashtami, roughly a fortnight before Ganesh Chaturthi, the sleepy village of Narvem in Bicholim, around 30 km from Panaji, comes alive during Masandevichi Zatra. Among the main items sold during this festival are colourful wooden Chitari artefacts.

 

Chitari objects can be found in almost all Goan Hindu homes, whether in the form of a low wooden seat or paat, or the low pedestal or chaurang on which the Ganesh idol is placed, or as wooden fruits that hang from a matoli or wooden canopy suspended from the ceiling during the festivities.

The craft of Chitari is practised by just four families in the Demani area of Cuncolim village in South Goa. And just before Ganesh Chaturthi, you can hear the sound of wood being cut and turned, and the smell of fresh paint pervades the village.

“My earliest memory of Chitari art is the wooden kitchen set my grandmother gifted me as a child,” says writer Anwesha Singbal. Chitari objects are an integral part of the traditional vaje or gift package given by a bride’s family to the groom’s family for the couple’s first Ganesh Chaturthi. “The bride and groom sit on the two paats to perform their first puja together,” says Nilesh Chitari, a member of one of the four families of artists.

 

Chitari literally means ‘to draw’ in Konkani. Interestingly, the design motif of two parakeets or two flowers has remained unchanged down the ages. As have the vibrant reds, yellows, greens and whites that are painted freehand by the artisans on the mango, jackfruit or hedi (local white wood) surfaces.

Folklorist Pandurang Phaldesai talks of the wooden sticks or tonyo, made by Chitari artists and used for folk dances like the Tonyamel or Talgadi. “Interestingly, after the festival is over, the tonyo are thrown away and a new pair is bought the next year. It helps the craftsmen get new business and, in turn, develops a relationship between craftsmen and dancers,” says Phaldesai.

The Goa-based freelancer writes on art, culture and ecology.

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 7:38:15 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/when-chitari-comes-alive/article19523391.ece

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