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Pichwai Tribal Folk Arts Workshop by JK Arts Foundation in collaboration with PO Box Trust at SOS Children’s Village, New Delhi

JK Arts Foundation has organized a number of workshops both digitally and on the ground in order to help children discover their inner artists while making them acquainted with the exquisite art forms of tribal communities across India. One such workshop was organized in the Safdarjung, New Delhi center of SOS Children’s Villages, a nationwide organization that has been providing children without parental care or on the verge of losing it protection, care and education for decades. Safdarjung is an area located in South Delhi. The area is consists of two major divisions: Safdarjung Enclave and Safdarjung Development Area. The area is named after the second nawab of Awadh, Safdarjung (c. 1708-1754) who inherited the quasi-independent subah (province) of Awadh from his father-in-law Saadat Khan in 1739 AD, consolidated and empowered it and briefly served as wazir (prime minister) in the Mughal court under Muhammad Shah (r. 1719-1748). The tomb of Safdarjung is also located in this area.

The children at the New Delhi center of SOS Children’s Villages, after they had returned from school and had lunch, were greeted by Geeta Vaishnavi, the Founder of JK Arts Founadation, who began the workshop by holding a friendly warm up session where, among other things, she discussed the importance of being acquainted with the various art forms strewn across India which unfortunately do not get the attention they deserve. Thereafter, artist Sukhmay Bagh introduced the children to the tribal folk art form- Pichwai. Following this, the children were given their own art kits and a video of an intermediate level tutorial explaining the Pichwai art form was played using a projector, the instructions of which the children followed step by step.

The Pichwai paintings were first introduced by the Vallabhacharya school of the Vaishnava sect with Nathdwara in Rajasthan as the central location for the tradition. Some 16th century Pichwai paintings can still be found in temples of Nathdwara. Initially the paintings were used as canopy decoration in the houses and temples of Rajasthan, though now the application of this style of painting has widened greatly and has been brought into the public eye. The main subjects of the Pichwai paintings were Srinatha (the 7-year-old avatar Krishna holding up the Govardhana hill), different phases and events in the life of Krishna, the family of Vallabhacharya, cows, lotuses etc., although the recent transformation of this style of painting and its popularity brings with it the possibility of thematic expansion as well.

In the end, due to the efforts of JK Arts Foundation and SOS Children’s Villages, the children present at this workshop were able to enjoy an afternoon of curiosity, inquiry and discovery through the marvelous Pichwai art form aided by artists. Through this workshop, the organizers succeeded in bringing the wonderful and engaging world of art into the lives of many children. Pranav Obhari, the Founder of a collaborating organization, P O Box Trust, said, “I am happy to support the JK Arts Foundation and its mission to harness the transformational power of the arts in children from disadvantaged communities and remote villages through the use of disruptive technologies. I am proud to be associated with such a cause especially during the critical time of the Covid-19 pandemic.”


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