Perhaps the treasure can only be found by those who seek – this is truer for a teacher from the Nuapada district in Odisha who dives deep into the lost sea of the region’s traditional art forms. He has his own YouTube channel, Matir Kala, where he documents the art, artist, and magic in between, creating an online repository that can be used as a benchmark by future generations.
Rajat Kumar Panigrahi’s quest for the endangered arts and crafts of Western Odisha is endless. Over the past nine years, he has traveled to nearly 1,000 villages across the state. Having a penchant for the art and culture of Western Odisha, Rajat, 28, began his quest for documentation with traditional musical instruments in 2012 while in college. His curiosity took him to the villages of Nuapada on weekends, he was looking for instruments he had never heard of until now. And he found them, a lot of them. Currently he is working as a professor of zoology at Yuvodaya College in Balangir but this has not stopped his wandering feet, he is still exploring a new village in western Odisha at least twice a week.
“These instruments were used in social and cultural events, but the people who played them had given up the vocation because it did not help them to make ends meet. I tried to help them by looking for potential buyers for the musical instruments and got many art lovers to get them, ”he recalls.
Encouraged by the response, Rajat decided to explore Kalahandi, Balangir, and Sonepur to discover rare art forms and artifacts. Over the years, he discovered various forms of performing art and collected old wood carvings from Kalahandi, bamboo handicrafts from Nuapada, traditional instruments, handicrafts and terracotta pieces from others. parts of the region. Rajat started Matir Kala in 2017 with the help of his cousin Satya Panigrahi. His friend Ganesh Pradhan assists him in the recording and editing of the video where he interviews artists and presents various forms of arts and crafts.
Some of its main documents include the folk culture of the Chuktia Bhunjia tribe of Nuapada, the Debguru folk tradition of Balangir, the folk instrument makers of Nuapada, Sonepur and Balangir; Bargarh Alkhai folk tradition; the folk traditions of the Dongria Kandha in Kalahandi; Dhunkel instrument, Kisan folk dance in Sambalpur, Sarangi and Ghudka folk instruments in Balangir, Ghumra dance from Kahalandi, Chhatar Jatra from Bijaygarh (Raj Komna) in Naupada, Bargarh Ikat and puppet dance from Nuapada.
Rajat’s YouTube videos are used by students for research and he plans to launch a series of lectures soon on various topics related to art and culture. In addition, he is developing a museum in his home to display traditional musical instruments, many of which are rare to find today.