Have you heard of a completely hand-painted lehenga set? Neither had we. For our Run Frenzy, Run collection, we chose a 2500-year-old art form called Mithila which can be traced back to the era of the Ramayana. This form originated when King Janaka asked an artist to capture the wedding of his beloved daughter Sita, in the form of paintings. Since then, these paintings have been made mostly by women and are being done on the walls and floors of houses as decorations during special occasions and festivals.
Mithila art, like most of the folk art In India, is characterised by the scenes it depicts. The figures and motifs depicted, usually convey a story, a moment in history that makes us feel like a part of their culture. The magic of their story-telling is what attracted us to use this art form, to tell our story.
In all of our previous collections, we have aimed at conveying stories through our designs. Each Papa Don’t Preach garment has a character, a feeling, a personality which draws one in to truly appreciate the art while giving them uncharted emotions.
Having taken inspirations from the Mithila paintings, we decided to not only derive motifs from the paintings but also to render it by painting a whole lehenga set by hand. Yes, you read it right, by hand!
The process of painting one lehenga set took a little over 52 hours, with a team of 4 passionate girls, a handful of paint brushes and 4 pairs of paint-spattered pants. Rendering the lehenga by hand had me thinking about how the art form has evolved through the ages. There were no existing paints and brushes during the time the art form was developed and yet they managed bring out the intrinsic details of a scene in their paintings. The colours used then were natural, derived from fruits and flowers and the tools were twigs and their own fingers.
Extensive efforts have been taken to keep the art form alive by educating women in the village and by teaching them the art of making Mithila Paintings. This also includes women empowering women through these paintings and creating awareness about various social issues that they choose to talk about.
Its amazing how an art form done by women to show tradition and culture is now being used to make their voices heard. What amazes us even more is knowing that we have played a little part in taking their art form forward. This is not only because we chose to take Mithila Paintings as inspiration for our collection (best decision ever!), but also because we can now share the story of the evolution of their art form, from ancient times to the present day and the role its playing in the lives of these incredible women.
An art form which was not meant to be done on clothing, is now cemented in one of our lehengas and when we showcase that lehenga to our Papa Don’t Preach Community, we are sharing the story of all the women who birthed this art form and all the women who are taking the legacy ahead.