Orissa News

Jhoti, Chita, Muruja

Jhoti and Chita

Jhoti On the walls of a village house in OrissaThe folk art of Orissa centers on the social and religious activities of the state. In the month of Margasira, women worship the goddess Lakshmi. It is the harvest season when grain is thrashed and stored. During this auspicious occasion, the mud walls and floors are decorated with murals in white rice paste or pithau. They are called Johti or Chita and are drawn not merely with the intention of decorating the house, but to establish a relationship between the mystical and the material, thus being highly symbolical and meaningful. Sometimes a brush is prepared by attaching a piece of cloth to a twig. This is dipped into the white rice paste to draw patterns on the wall. At times, the paste is sprinkled on the walls with delicate swishes of mist, and a pattern resembling bunches of paddy emerges on the wall.

Throughout the year, the village women of Orissa perform several rituals for the fulfillment of of their desires. For each occasion, a specific motif is drawn on the floor or on the wall. For instance, in Lakshimi Puja a stack of paddy is drawn on the walls structured like a pyramid. During Durga Puja, while dots superimposed with red are painted on the walls. This combination of red and white signifies the worship of Shiva and Shakti. To draw a Jhoti or Chita, the fingers are dipped in to the rice paste and made to trace out intricate patterns on the floors or walls.



Muruja Muruja is drawn on the floor with powders of different hues. Indigenous methods are used to get color powders. White powder is obtained from powdered rice, black from burnt coconut shells, yellow from the petals of marigold flower or turmeric and red from clay or bricks. In the holy month of Kartik (November) women of Orissa observe penance and draw Muruja designs near the Tulsi plant. These are also drawn on grain bins, on small pavilions for household deities, on the threshold of homes and on earthen pots used during marriage and on other auspicious occasions.