Free Press Journal

Krishna Verma: Taking the baton of Malvi folk art forms forward


Ujjain: Given the present times, being connected with roots is next to Godliness as it is gifted to us by our predecessors. It is paramount, more so when people are blissfully oblivious to our rich and age-old traditions and customs. However, a woman, Krishna Verma, has been working steadfastly for past 40 to 45 years to restore the glorious past of ‘Malavi folk art forms’. Free Press caught up with her in order to get a deeper insight into her mission.

Beginning from scratch, she detailed about her fascination about folk arts of Malva “My passion for Malvi folk art dates back to my childhood days when I was a 5-year-old. My grandmother Rambha Bai used to teach me to draw “Sanja” and “Maandna”. These are basically traditional drawings and sketches which are made from cow-dung, flower petals and various colours on walls and floors on special occasions and festivities in many households of Malva region. It is officially called ‘Rupankar kala’ and recognized as a genuine and authentic art form at national level”.

Elaborating further she continued “I would often accompany my grandmother and learn these art forms because as a child it was sheer joy for me.Today, when I reflect, I realize the significance of her teachings. I feel truly blessed andempowered to carry it forward to younger generations”.

Giving us the bird’s eye view of various art forms belonging to Malva region, she chuckled “My father, late ‘Siddheshwar Sen’ was my Guru and chief of the ‘Maanch’ Clan. Back in 1956, he laid the foundation ofthe‘Maanch Gharana’ to provide an identity to this erstwhile genre. Recognising his contribution and services, he was conferred with the ‘ Rashtrapati Award ” among other awards. Though, he never forced me to learn these forms, he would always wanted me to accompany him, perhaps he wanted to teach me that way”.

Krishna further elaborated “Maanchis basically an amalgamation of various Malvi art forms, in which many traditional folk arts like Malvi dances, songs and conversations are carried out. It is similar, on the lines of ‘Khayal’ and ‘Bhavai’ genre of Rajasthan and Gujrat respectively. These are generally performed to celebrate the festivity at various house-holds in Malva region”.

Enquiring further as to how she plans to spread awareness among youth about this art form Verma said “We strive todisseminate the knowledge and awareness among the youth and ordinary masses through our organisation “ Malav Lok Kala Kendra”. In our organization we have about fifty artists,primarily girls of different villages. We have around dozen centers in various villages also. Throughout the year, we organize many acts and eventswherein we exhibit folk arts and culture of Malva. We have not restricted ourselves to only Malva region; in fact we have spread our wings to national and international levels. To date,our artists have given around 2500 performances across the various national platforms. Besides this, with our organistion’s patronage around 10,000 artists have undergone training for drawing ‘Maandne’, ‘Sanja’, and various other ‘Malvi folk dance’ and “Maanch folkdance’.”

Exhorting Ujjainites and habitants of Malva region to work towards collectively for restoring the old glory of art forms she said “I was blessed as I got my guru in the form of my father. He passed the baton to me. Similarly, I have also initiated my daughter-in-law for teaching her these art forms. Now, she is entrusted with the responsibility of taking it forward to the next generations. I would also like to point out that younger generation must be cautious of ‘treasure of pearls’ left behind by our ancestors and forefathers because it is our identity. If we fail to save ourselves from losing it, we will be lost.”