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Mithila Art / Madhubani painting was in news recently when the excruciating work was undertaken as a Swachh Bharat mission and has been done free of cost as 'Shramdaan' in an attempt to promote the traditional art form. At least 7,000 sqft area at this Bihar station under the East Central Railway (ECR) has been decked up.

To complete the entire project artists took more than 20 days.

Madhubani paintings is a traditional fashion of paintings developed in the Mithila region, in the villages of Jitwarpur and Ranti, near the city of Madhubani. Literally, the word Madhubani means "honey forest".

The origins of Madhubani paintings are quite unknown. However, it is believed that King Janak, ruler of Mithila Kingdom in the 8th or 7th century BCE, had asked to develop these paintings in order to capture the moments of his daughter Sita’s wedding to Prince Rama. 

Essentially, the paintings are of religious motives. The central theme of all paintings is love and fertility. They are made in special rooms in the house, as in the room for prayer, the ritual area, the bridal room, or the main walls of the village to welcome visitors, etc.

Before starting the painting, women usually do a prayer to the deities so that their favour accompanies them in their objectives or rituals. For its elaboration, the cotton wrapped on a bamboo stick is used as a brush. The colours that are applied are prepared manually by the artists. The black colour is prepared by mixing blight with cow dung; yellow is prepared based on turmeric and Banyan leaf milk; blue is extracted from indigo; the red of the Kusum flower; the green leaf of the applewood tree; the white of rice powder; and orange of the Palash flower.

Though the origin of this art form dates back to Ramayana period (ancient India) as the popular oral tradition suggests, It was W.G. Archer, a British collector of this region (during the British colonial period of India) who was greatly attracted to this art and he named it Mithila Art in the 1940s.

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