Women all over India practice their Traditional Odia Culture of decorating the house walls and floors by Jhoti, Chita and Muruja and various patterns. These folk arts are believed to bring glory to the festivals. And these are also believed as the harbinger of prosperity and happiness. Usually these art forms are practiced by rural women though few urban women do the same to maintain the religious and ritual heritage associated with it.
For each occasion a specific motif is drawn on the floor or on the wall, which is the symbol of Traditional Odia Culture. For instance, during Lakshmi puja a stack of paddy or rice sheaves is drawn on the walls structured like a pyramid. During Durga Puja, white dots superimposed with red are painted on the walls. This combination of red and white signifies the worship of Shiva and Shakti.
Jhoti is quite different from Muruja. While Murujas are made using coloured powders, jhoti involves line art using the traditional white coloured, semi liquid paste of rice or pithau. The fingers are used as brushes in this art form.
Intricate and beautiful floral designs, the lotus, elephants, symbols used in patta chitra find place in this form of free hand drawing. Small foot marks of goddess Lakshmi are a must in any jhoti.
Jhoti or Chita::
To draw a jhoti or chita, the fingers are dipped into the rice paste and made to trace out intricate patterns on the floor 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. At times, the paste is sprinkled on the walls with delicate swishes of de mist, sad a pattern resembling bunches of paddy emerges on the wall. The chitas me 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.
Muruja is drawn on the floor with powders of different hues. White powder is obtained from the grinding of stones, green powder is obtained from dry leaves, black from burnt coconut shells, yellow from the petals of marigold flowers or turmeric, and red from red clay or bricks.
Muruja is generally used during rituals in the forms of mandalas. In the holy month of Kartik (November) women observe penance and draw muruja designs near the tulsi plant.
Drawing of muruja designs needs a lot of skill and practice. The powder is held between the tips of the thumb and the forefinger, and allowed to fall delicately through them to form lines and patterns which are a delight to the eye testifying to the innate skill of the practitioners who are generally women.