Sita Devi: Activism through art

Madhubani art is a celebration of culture and the surroundings in which it is practiced.

It has become a great platform to bridge the gap between myth and reality, particularly among women.


The usage of Madhubani has now expanded to active political engagement in inclusive growth.

One of the pioneers who set the path to modern Madhubani into mainstream India through socio-political influence was none other than the Padma Shri recipient, Sita Devi.


Sita Devi was born in 1914 in the Madhubani district of India, in the village of Jitwarpur.

She was well-known for her Bharni style drawings, which entail outlining the subject in black and filling in the spaces with color.




She first introduced Madhubani painting's intricate Bharni style out of a rural household into metropolitan drawing rooms.


Sita Devi's work attracted significant national and worldwide attention to Mithila art during her long life (the artist died in 2005 at the age of 92).

Sita Devi worked diligently to build and enhance her village and society via education and economic empowerment, in addition to her creative career.

Because of her social engagement, she was considered a mother in Jitwarpur village.


She had inspired about 1,000 other people in the community to study the technique of Madhubani painting. According to famous scholar N.K. Jha, Jitwarpur is an exception to the state's numerous underdeveloped villages, thanks to Sita Devi.

The road to the village is brick-paved.

Even the streets within the village are paved. Sita Devi was responsible for the village's first primary school, which was eventually upgraded to a secondary school.


Ram Dev stated that her mother used to stay at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi and was dedicated to taking necessary steps towards rural development issues.

She remarked in one of the noteworthy interviews, "Politicians do nothing... I lived in New Delhi's Pragati Maidan and know a lot of people.

I constantly talked to them about my community and how things could be improved here," she explained.


In Jitwarpur, her demands for the improvement of her village are still fondly remembered.

Sita Devi's work was admired by numerous leaders, including ex-Presidents and Prime Ministers Lal Bahadur Shastri, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, and Indira Gandhi.

At the same time, she was an artist-in-residence at the National Handicrafts and Handlooms Museum in New Delhi.

In 1975, she received the National Award; a few years later, in 1981, she received the Padma Shri, one of India's highest civilian honors; and in 1984, she received the Bihar Ratna Samman.


During the entire course of her artistic career, Sita Devi's work has been shown in over ten countries. It is in the permanent collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris, the Mithila Museum in Japan, and many other international institutions.


Author: Akash Rupam Ekka Editor: Rachita Biswas


Sources: https://s3.amazonaws.com/iac-staging/feature_images/222/content/9sept-mithila.jpg

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