It has been almost a week since the devastatingly powerful Cyclone Fani hit Odisha’s coast, leaving mayhem and destruction in its wake. The state has been hit hard. Though the phenomenal evacuation efforts made sure that the loss of life was minimised, the destruction of infrastructure, basic facilities and damage to agriculture and establishments is so overwhelming that the state will probably take years to fully recover.
Many of the cyclone-hit parts, even in the capital city Bhubaneswar, are still without electricity and drinking water. The state government and central authorities have been working day and night to restore electricity, connectivity and services in cyclone-hit areas. Even neighbouring states have sent help.
Deep appreciation for all those policemen and firemen who are tirelessly working day and night to save lives, aiding in relief operation, restoration of road communication and other essential services pic.twitter.com/KN0bQ4dD4I
— Naveen Patnaik (@Naveen_Odisha) May 8, 2019
Despite all the help, the damages are just too much for the coastal districts to bear. Government efforts have saved lives, but crops have been destroyed, farmers have lost their livestock, and thousands of villages lay destroyed.
Amidst all the mayhem and chaos, a silent, serene village near Puri has taken damages that are unspeakable. Raghurajpur is a unique village. Famous for its Pattachitra art, the village is a tourism hotspot. When Cyclone Fani made its landfall on the coast of Puri, Raghurajpur has suffered losses that have destroyed exquisitely crafted Pattachitras, hundreds of finely crafted paintings, many of which take days, even months to make, have been destroyed.
— Sambad (@sambad_odisha) May 9, 2019
The village of roughly 140 families makes Pattachitras, wooden craft, paper masks and other traditional art. It has been declared a heritage village and witnesses a constant flow of Indian and foreign tourists throughout the year. After the cyclone, the village lies destroyed, along with scores of painfully made paintings and artefacts.
The Pattachitras are uniquely painted depictions of Hindu gods and mythology. The art form dates back to the 5th century BC and is kept alive by a few master painters and their family members. Pattachitras are made on a piece of cloth or dried palm leave and include intricately made patterns. They depict mythical animals, gods, leaves, flowers and events of Hindu mythology. Many Pattachitras involve months of intricate, fine work and are sold for thousands of rupees.
As per a report in The Hindu, the artists of the village state that Cyclone Fani was just too strong for them to save their paintings. When the cyclone hit, most artists had to try their best to save lives, the paintings and artefacts were left to face the wrath as Fani tore through wooden doors and smashed down walls.
Not just the art and craft, cyclone Fani has also destroyed the vast stretches of palm trees from where the artists used to source their raw material. Stone sculptures around the village are lying scattered and houses with intricate wood carvings, some hundreds of years old, stand brutally damaged.
The village and its art survive on tourists and connoisseurs. After Cyclone Fani, not a single tourist has come to the village. Devastated artists are now trying to salvage their paintings which had taken them months, sometimes years to make. Relief and reconstruction efforts might erect the fallen homes and restore services soon, but the years of hard work and the painful artistry invested in the damaged Pattachitras is something the artists will never get back.