Uttarakhand is an extraordinary hub to witness some of the finest forms of art and craft that totally justify the state’s magnificence and add more colors to the lives of the residents. This sloping state has given birth to variety of craftsmanships, such as wooden carving, paintings, temple architecture, murals, Aipan etc.
Natural beauty of Uttarakhand has been the greatest inspiration for a craftsman. The lavish green slopes, thick woodlands, snow covered crests, rich streams and rivers and the wealthy flora and fauna have played a vital part in motivating generations after generations.
Aipan is one such flamboyant and eye catchy art form of Kumaon, when come across stirs certain emotions in every Uttarakhandi and take them back to their hometowns.
‘Aepan’ or Aipan or Alpana is an art which has a special place in all Kumaoni homes. The word “Aepan’ is a derivative of ‘Arpan’. A commonly used word for it is “Likhai” (writing), although it is a pattern made with the fingers. Aepan are used as ritual designs for Pujas, festivals and ceremonies connected with birth, janeu (the sacred thread ceremony), marriage and death.
In Aipan, walls, papers and pieces of cloth are decorated by the drawing of various geometric and other figures belonging to gods, goddesses and objects of nature. Pichhauras or dupattas are also decorated in this manner. At the time of Harela there is a tradition of making clay idols (Dikaras).
The raw material used is simple ochre (Geru) colour and rice paste, once the ochre base is ready the artist draws the pattern with free hand. Chowkies are made with mango wood and painted with special designs for each occasion. Pattas & Thapas are made directly on the walls or on paper and cloth. Earlier the paint used was made from natural ‘dyes. Today, poster and oil paints both are used.
In order to survive with the changing trends in the society due to the modernization this art form now is not only limited to the walls, papers and pieces of cloth, as some artists have started painting these traditional patters on modern goods such as cards, wall hangings, cushion covers, table cloths, T-Shirts, gift, bookmarks, clay items, wooden boxes, trays and coasters, kettles etc.
Even today those artists are taking this art to the next level with help of technology and various social media platforms such as instagram and facebook.
Some such artists and their pages that we recommend you to follow on Instagram are:
Dr Savita Joshi @aipan_enthusiast: https://www.instagram.com/aipan_enthusiast/?igshid=2hnndnnxnwas
Minakshi Khati @aipan_girl_of_kumau: https://www.instagram.com/aipan_girl_of_kumau/?igshid=jj323hsp6618
Moreover, the contribution of Uttarakhand women is remarkable in preserving this art form, ladies of Gethia region in Nainital are leaving no stones unturned as they are working together as a team in an NGO named Kartavya Karma and painting Aipan art on various products such as cups, file folders, notebooks covers, etc.
Started in January 2013 Kartavya Karma is a non-profit voluntary organisation working in the field of Health & sustainable development since February, 2013. Since its inception, Kartavya Karma has effectively launched & completed several development projects in more than 5 villages and 10 city slums.
Their principle is to strive for sustainable development through primary health care, Adult Literacy including legal literacy, diversified agriculture, gender empowerment and community participation. Besides implementing various activities directly by the organization, the organization works with a network of NGOs in Uttarakhand & Uttar Pradesh, India.