Warli painting: Sticking on to their roots

by Aparna G. Ajith
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Our country carries a bag full of traditions and culture, but it’s never heavy. The richness and purity of our roots come out in the forms of various artworks; one of those art forms is Warli paintings. The meaning behind this fantastic portrayal of colours is much more than its appearance; well, that’s something about art; it grabs our attention and makes us curious about their expression. These paintings have many layers of stories to tell, but what surprises me is the Warli community’s connection with their roots and how strongly they are supporting it in different ways. 

The tribal people of the Northern Sahyadri range of Maharashtra, India, created Warli painting. This exciting art form represents their tradition and way of picturing various stories. As part of my research, I spoke to a social worker who worked in an NGO in Palghar. During her placement, she talked with the locals regarding the work they do through Warli paintings. The locals practice Warli painting in the Mokada and Jawhar areas for different purposes; one of the main reasons is to take forward and nourish their heritage and continue respecting it as their ancestors. But, as we know, nothing lasts if we don’t find ways to protect it, and the people of these villages are trying to preserve their traditions consistently. Consistency is what makes them different.

They practice this art to continue not only their tradition but also to survive. The people of Warli tribes actively paint the walls, bags, etc., even children are enthusiastic about participating in the process. The government schools also play an essential role in promoting the art; they conduct cultural programs that include Warli painting competitions and encourage the children with awards. We can see these beautiful paintings only because the tribe never gave up on this art. It’s our responsibility to give respect to art and carry forward it; the Warli tribe shows that dedication and love towards their heritage.

“Seize the beauty of every art in our lives before it ceases to exist”

An article by Aparna G. Ajith

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