An organic festival, Gram Dhara Chitrotsav, literally an arts festival for village and earth is India’s first Land Art Festival in Nagpur.
Gram Dhara Chitrotsav, which translates to an arts festival for village and earth, India’s first Land Art Festival paints an inspiring story of a collective of young artists celebrating land and life through art. The artists celebrate this organic festival useing a variety of green and red leafy vegetables, from amaranth to spinach and fenugreek, to create pictorial depictions of contemporary issues of farmers. Through this, they are creating a new kind of organic revolution in the fields of Nagpur.
The group has been experimenting and working with art in public spaces for the last three years. Their idea is to transcend caste, religion, and power structures, to create something worthwhile that celebrates life and people who are living it. The idea was conceived through food as something that brings everyone closer together. And that harmony can be found in villages where farming is practised. They believed that the medium through which to reach the people they engage with has to be something related to their daily lives. That is when art and farming came together in this organic festival as they saw agriculture as an art in itself. The elements of farming were simply arranged to create visual aesthetics and it delivered a message that spoke to people who made it and also to those who came to see it.
‘Land Art’, also known as ‘Earth Works’, developed as a movement during the late 1960’s to early 1970’s as an international revolt by artists against painting and sculpture and the anti-formalist trend of that time. It has been diminishing in popularity over time, especially in India. That is why this story of these youngsters who take art to the fields and farmers, recognising their role in our lives needs all our attention. They are not an NGO or formal organisation, they are just a group of enthusiasts who decided to promote the issues of farmers through art.
During the two days of this festival, children, farmers and youth of the village come together, beating cold or heat, rain or wind to sow seeds in the night and wait for the seeds to grow. They even devised solutions to problems that they encountered on the way together. Throughout the process, what was important was also how the participants felt. This festival was open for everyone to perform, paint, sing, sculpt, click, sow, cook, stay, learn, enjoy and collaborate. The idea behind the festival is also to point out that the issues related to land are not just that of a farmer. By sharing the same planet, we share the same responsibilities as well. It is manifestly unfair when it is just the farmer who bears the burden of environmental issues. Hence, this collective also promotes good agricultural practices and advocates for native seeds and techniques.
Such discussions and organic processes are what will save farming and our farmers. Let us ensure that stories like this reach the government and get adopted on a proactive scale so that farmers who help us sustain our lives by growing the food we eat are not forgotten, but honoured.