Jhoti, Chita, Muruja

The folk art of Odisha is bound up with its social and religious activities. In the month of Margasira, women folk 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 maerial, thus being highly symbolical and meaningful.

Throughout the yea, the village women perform several rituals for the fulfillment of of their diseres. For each ocassion, 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. Sometimes a kind of brush is prepared from a twig to one end of which a small piece of cloth is attached. This is dipped into the white rice paste to draw patterns on the wall. Muruja is drawn on the floor with powders of different hues.

Indigenous methods are used to get colour powders. White powder is obtained from dry leaves, 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 observe penace and draw Muruja designs near the Tulsi plant with Chaura in their courtyard.