Muslim artists keep 400-yr-old Holi tradition alive

Housed in the walled city of Jaipur, a locality called 'Maniharon ka Rasta' is abuzz as Muslim families living there are busy making gulal gota on the occasion Holi and keep a four-hundred-year-old tradition alive.

Housed in the walled city of Jaipur, a locality called 'Maniharon ka Rasta' is hard at work as Muslim families living there are making 'gulal gota' on the occasion Holi and in the process are keeping a 400-year-old tradition alive.

The ‘gulal gota' are painted lac balls filled with coloured powder made by the artisans who have inherited the traditional practice from their ancestors, almost six generations ago. Fire and copper pipettes are used to blow up lac into hollow balls. After the balls cool down, the artist fills them will 10-20 grams of herbal gulal (colour used on holi) and the ball is sealed with lac. People who gather to play throw these colourful balls, weighing 10-20 gms, upon each other. On impact, these balls burst and colour is then released.

Although this traditional form of playing with colours is shrinking with the availability of cheap Holi colours in the market, the Muslim community of artisans who produce these have been trying their bit to keep the tradition alive.

"Our entire family doe it annually to keep alive the rich tradition of the festival of colours. But this is not enough for our daily earnings. For a pack of 4-8 gotas which costs between Rs 80-160, hours of hard labour and skill are required", Mohammad Amjad , a fifth generation artisan told DH.

Other than the cities of Rajasthan, Jaipur's famous 'Gulal gota' is also exported to other countries such as UK, Spain, Canada, Australia, France and Nepal. These Gulal Gotas are put in the packs and is often used for the gift purposes and used in traditional temples of Jaipur.

The decline in demand of gotas has become a worry for these artisans as their younger generation does not want to carry this tradition forward looking at the dip in the demand. Apart from the festival of Holi in March, for the rest of the year, these skilled artisans manufacture lac bangles.

"This is our traditional work, but the new generation is not much interested taking this forward, because of the decrease in the sale from last two decades", Amjad added.

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Muslim artists keep 400-yr-old Holi tradition alive

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